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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Ranch Dressing Day & The History Of Ranch Dressing

Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

Kraft Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Casserole With Ranch Dressing

[1] America’s #1 bottled dressing, Hidden Valley Ranch, and [2] Kraft, a runner-up. Note that both are labeled both ranch and buttermilk. [3] The dressing is used to top tacos, pizzas, and casseroles like this one. Here’s the recipe from Kraft.

 

March 10th is National Ranch Dressing Day.

Based on sales of bottled dressing, Ranch is America’s favorite. It surpassed the previous favorite, Italian dressing, way back in 1992.

Ranch dressing is made of buttermilk, mayonnaise, seasonings (black pepper, garlic, ground mustard seed, lemon juice, paprika) and herbs (chives, parsley, and dill). Sour cream or yogurt are sometimes used for all or part of the buttermilk or mayonnaise.

Here’s some little-known food history:

You heard it here first: ranch and buttermilk are the same dressing. Buttermilk dressing, which has been made in the southern U.S. for centuries, has the same recipe.

Look closely at recipes and packaged dressings. Many have both “buttermilk” and “ranch” in the title or on the label.

HISTORY OF RANCH DRESSING

By the late 1800s, the naturally-occurring sour milk, called buttermilk, was popular in baked goods, for marinating chicken, as a health food at spas and sanitariums, and other applications.

Printed recipes for buttermilk dressing go back more than 100 years in southern cookbooks.

The original was a boiled dressing made with eggs, vinegar, buttermilk, herbs and spices. (Famed restaurant critic Craig Claiborne, a Southern boy, hated it.)

With the advent of commercial mayonnaise in the 1930s, it became easier to make, and no boiling was required.

As modern refrigeration (in the form of the ice box) became commonplace in homes, the milk no longer soured. Commercial dairies began to culture it, and sold the buttermilk we know today beginning in the 1920s.

But before then, the dressing became popular among cowboys. With a wealth of cattle, buttermilk was more available on the High Plains* than vegetable oils. The chuck wagons dished out creamy buttermilk-based dressings for a long time [source].

Here’s a longer discussion of the evolution of buttermilk.

In the early 1950s, Steve Henson, a Nebraskan working in the Alaska bush, created a dressing for his crew from buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise and seasonings: garlic, herbs and spices, onions and salt.

In 1954, Steve and his wife Gayle opened Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains, near Santa Barbara, California. They served the dressing to guests and called it ranch dressing.

Aha!

It was very popular, and guests asked to buy it to take home. The Hensons sold it both as a finished product and as packets of dry mix to be combined with mayonnaise and buttermilk.

Demand for the dressing grew much more than demand for bookings at the ranch. The Hidden Valley Ranch Food Products was incorporated and a factory established.

The dressing was first distributed to supermarkets in the California and the Southwest, and eventually, nationwide. The brand was purchased by Clorox and the ranch sold.

And now you know how old-fashioned buttermilk dressing turned into the more intriguing-sounding ranch dressing.

 
HOW TO USE RANCH DRESSING

Ranch dressing is common in the U.S. as a salad dressing and a dip for crudités. It is also used:

  • As a dip for chips and pretzels.
  • As a dip or sauce for fried food: chicken fingers, French fries, fried mushrooms, fried onion rings, fried pickles, fried zucchini, hushpuppies, jalapeño poppers.
  • As a condiment or sauce for baked potatoes, burgers, casseroles, chicken wings, pizza, tacos, wraps and other sandwiches; and with seafood such as Arctic char, lobster, salmon and shrimp.
  • According to an article on ranch dressing facts, Melissa McCarthy and Courteney Cox have been known to chug it, and Katy Perry insists on ranch in her backstage rider (what is available in her dressing room).

    ________________

    *The High Plains comprise southeastern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota, western Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and south of the Texas Panhandle.

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    WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE YOUR OWN RANCH DRESSING

    Be Food Smart researched America’s favorite dressing, Hidden Valley Ranch, to point out the brand promise vis-à-vis the actual ingredients. Here’s their full article, but the highlights:

    What the brand’s website says:

    Our Original Ranch® recipes are made with wholesome ingredients and the perfect blend of herbs and spices. Enjoy the farm fresh taste of Hidden Valley® in our ranch dressing mixes, dips and salad toppings.

    The actual ingredient list:

    INGREDIENTS: Soybean oil, water, egg yolk, sugar, salt, cultured nonfat buttermilk, natural flavors (soy), spices, less than 1% of: dried garlic, dried onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, modified food starch, monosodium glutatmate, artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid and calcium disodium EDTA as preservatives, disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate.

    Not exactly wholesome or farm fresh!

    So, time to really know how good ranch is, by making your own. We adapted this recipe from Simply Recipes.

    Make your own buttermilk. You don’t have to buy a quart of buttermilk. You can make 1 cup of buttermilk by adding 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or vinegar to a one-cup measure, plus enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir and let sit.

    Turn buttermilk/ranch into blue cheese dressing. Just stir in 1/2 cup crumbled quality blue cheese at the end.

    RECIPE: BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING

    Ingredients For 1.5 Cups

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped (substitute 1/4 teaspoon of dry dill, but nothing beats fresh)
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    Variations

    There are many variations on the original ranch recipe. Anyone can adjust the seasonings in the recipe above to bring out the flavors you like. You can also switch them out; for example:

  • A blend of Greek yogurt (1/3) and buttermilk (2/3).
  • Apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.
  • Cayenne instead of black pepper.
  • Dijon mustard instead of powdered mustard.
  • Minced garlic clove or 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Scallions instead of minced chives—and more of them!
  • Tarragon instead of dill.
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    Preparation

     

    Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

    Wedge Salad Buttermilk Dressing

    Crudites Plate

    [4] Freshly made buttermilk/ranch dressing. Here’s the recipe from Little Broken. [5] A wedge salad with buttermilk/ranch dressing. Here’s the recipe from Creative Culinary. [6] Crudités with buttermilk/ranch dressing, from Good Cheap Eats.

     
    1. WHISK together the buttermilk and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. When fully combined, blend in the other ingredients. That’s it!

    2. COVER and refrigerate. It will keep a few weeks.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Chocolate Peanut Butter Irish Soda Bread

    We love Irish soda bread, in the traditional recipe with raisins and a savory version made with cheddar cheese (in the same article).

    But here’s a version of Irish soda bread that is not tradition in the Emerald Isle. It was created by Christine Fischer of Wry Toast Eats.

    Christine uses Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (photo #4) from PB & Co., to create swirls of dark chocolate PB in the bread.

    Can’t have/don’t like peanut butter? Add the chocolate chips only, and substitute 1/2 cup of dried cherries, cranberries or raisins for the PB.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER IRISH SODA BREAD

    Prep time is 30 minutes plus freezing time; cook time is 40-45 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon nonfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour + extra flour for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoon salted butter, melted
  • Shortening to grease
  • Parchment paper for peanut butter chocolate chunks
  •  
    For Serving

  • Butter (softened)
  • Tea (Irish Breakfast tea can be enjoyed any time of day)
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    Preparation

    1. MELT the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, about 2 minutes. Once melted, add the peanut butter and vegetable oil, stirring until well combined. Pour into parchment-lined baking dish, distributing evenly (photo #1). Transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 1 hour (photo #2).

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 360°F. Amply grease a round 9” baking pan and set aside.

    3. COMBINE the milk and white vinegar in a small bowl, stirring gently. Allow the ingredients to sit for 10 minutes until the milk begins to curdle. Once the milk curdles…

    4. COMBINE the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl, whisking until mixed. Gently stir in the frozen chocolate chunks.

    5. SLOWLY ADD the curdled milk to the flour mixture, stirring until the dough begins to take shape. If needed, add an extra tablespoon or two of milk. Once the dough has formed…

    6. TRANSFER to a floured surface and kneed several times before forming into a ball. While kneading the dough, the peanut butter chunks should begin to melt and spread. It’s a bit messy, but use the extra flour as needed to make forming a ball manageable. When ready…

    7. TRANSFER the dough to the greased baking pan. Cut an “X” into the top of the dough. A cross cut before baking allows the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread. As a bonus in a Catholic country like Ireland, it adds the symbolic note of giving thanks.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Dark Chocolate Dreams Irish Soda Bread cookingwithcake ilovePB 230

    Chocolate Irish Soda Bread Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Chocolate PB Irish Soda Bread ilovePB 230

    Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter

    [1] Step 1: Melt the chocolate, then [2] freeze it for an hour. [3] Fresh from the oven. [4] Photos courtesy Christine Fischer and PB & Co.

     
    8. USE a pastry brush to coat the entire surface with melted butter. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean and the top is browned and crisp (photo #3).

    9. SLICE and serve immediately, slathering with extra butter as desired; or let it cool as you prefer.

    THE HISTORY OF IRISH SODA BREAD

    Baking soda, called bread soda in Ireland, was invented in the early 1800s. In those days most people didn’t have an oven. They cooked in a fireplace over coals or a peat fire (called turf fire in Ireland). They placed the dough in a lidded cast-iron pot which went right on top of the fire.

    In County Donegal and County Leitrim, there was a tradition of adding caraway seeds to bread. Immigrants brought that recipe to the U.S. In America, the recipe evolved to include butter, eggs, raisins and sugar—ingredients which frugal housewives in Ireland wouldn’t have thought to add to the dough.

    Today, the soda bread recipe options include:

  • White soda bread: all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk and optional caraway seeds.
  • Brown soda bread, also a traditional recipe that substitutes whole wheat flour for part or all or all of the white flour.
  • Irish soda bread with raisins and caraway, the classic Irish-American version also made with sugar, butter, and eggs.
  • Numerous modern recipes, from healthier variations of whole grains, flax and sunflower seeds to walnut soda bread to oat soda bread with browned butter, rosemary and black pepper…to the recipe above with chocolate peanut butter.
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    FOOD FUN: Giant Meatball

    March 9th is National Meatball Day. Check out the giant meatball from New York restaurant and nightclub Lavo, available today.

    Served in a six-inch cast iron skillet, the meatball rests in a sausage ragu, topped with whipped ricotta and garnished with a basil chiffonade (ribbons).

    Want to make your own giant meatballs? Here are two recipes:

  • From Martha Stewart, made with equal parts ground beef, pork and veal, baked, then simmered in marinara sauce.
  • An all-beef version from Proud Italian Cook.
  •  
    Serve it with:

  • A side of pasta with broccoli rabe or broccolini.
  • A side salad.
  • Garlic bread (recipe) and crostini (similar to garlic bread, but toasted in the oven until crisp).
  •  
    For dessert?

    Better fugetaboutit!

     

    Giant Meatball

    Have a giant meatball on National Meatball Day. Photo courtesy Lavo | NYC.

     
    Or if the strawberries are nice, serve them with some drops of aged balsamic vinegar.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Swedish Meatballs & The Other Meatballs Of Europe

    Swedish Meatballs

    Swedish Meatballs In Gravy

    Frozen Meatballs Ikea

    Frozen Mashed Potatoes Ikea

    Sour Cream

    Fresh Dill

    Lingonberry Preserves

    [1] Classic Swedish meatballs (here’s the recipe from The Kitchn). [2] Some people like lots of the sour cream gravy (here’s the recipe from The Recipe Critic). [3] Frozen meatballs from Ikea, in beef/pork, chicken or vegan. [4] Frozen mashed potatoes from Ikea. [5] Sour cream [6] Dill (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [7] Lingonberry preserves from Ikea.

     

    Cocktail parties in 1960s America had a set of de rigueur cocktail food that included cheese balls, deviled eggs, Lipton onion soup dip with potato chips, pigs in blankets, rumaki*, stuffed celery (often stuffed with olive cream cheese) and bite-size Swedish meatballs.

    In Sweden, these small meatballs are made wutg a blend of pork and beef seasoned with allspice, ginger and nutmeg. They are served in a tangy sour cream sauce with a side of mashed potatoes and cream sauce.

    In the U.S., many people serve Swedish meatballs over noodles. Well O.K., but that’s not authentic.

    For the true Swedish meatball experience, a serving of lingonberry preserves is as essential as cranberry sauce is to turkey in the U.S.

    What’s a lingonberry? It’s the Scandinavian version of America’s cranberry, also tart but half the size (see photo #7, below). They are different species of the same genus†.

    Swedish meatballs are Sweden’s number-one dish, the unofficial national dish (although BBC Good Food gives that honor to kanelbulle, a cinnamon bun).

    In the U.S. they have their own food holiday: March 9th.
     
    FOR A QUICK DISH, HEAD TO IKEA

    The Swedish-based retailer makes it easy, by selling the components for Swedish meatballs in their food markets. Ikea also sells a white gravy mix, but you can’t beat fresh sour cream—or homemade mashed potatoes, for that matter.

    The gravy is easy to make, just sour cream, butter and flour. Here’s a classic from-scratch recipe from The Kitchn. For the potatoes, just boil and mash with butter and/or milk or cream, plus seasonings. Fresh dill is a nice touch.

    At Ikea, you’ll find everything you need (except the fresh the sour cream sauce) to assemble the dish:

  • Meatballs, a.k.a. kottbüllar (frozen, in original, chicken and vegan, $8.99 per 2.2-pound package (photo #3 at left).
  • Mashed potatoes, a.k.a. allemansrätten (frozen), $2.49/package (photo #4 at left).
  • Cream sauce, a.k.a. gräddsås (a basic white sauce), $1.79/packet.
  • Lingonberry preserves, a.k.a. sylt lingon, $3.99/jar (photo #7).
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    SWEDISH MEATBALLS FROM SCRATCH

    Make your own with one of these recipes:

  • Swedish meatballs recipe from The Kitchn (this has the best explanation and photos—photo #1 above).
  • Swedish meatballs from Alton Brown.
  • Swedish meatballs swimming in gravy from The Recipe Critic (photo #2).
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    MEATBALLS AROUND EUROPE

    While we live in a city with a small chain of meatball shops (five types of meatballs, six sauces, a total of 30 combinations), our American experience has largely been the Italian-American meatball in tomato sauce.

    So we took a look at the traditional meatballs of other European countries. For the world list, including meatballs from the Americas and Asia, head here.

  • Albania: Fried meatballs with feta cheese.
  • Alsace, France: A blend of beef and pork with onions, bacon, eggs and bread, served plain or with cream sauce.
  • Armenia: Stewed meatballs and vegetables, often over rice.
  • Austria: Fried meatballs.
  • Bosnia: Made from ground beef and served with mashed potatoes.
  • Belgium: A blend of beef and pork with bread crumbs and sliced onions. Variations use different types of meat and chopped vegetables.
  • Bulgaria: Made from ground beef, pork or a blend, often with diced onions and soaked bread, pan- fried or grilled.
  • Croatia: Typically made with beef, pork or a blend, and served with mashed potatoes or rice, often with a tomato-based sauce.
  • Denmark: Usually a blend of ground pork and veal with onions and eggs, flattened somewhat for pan frying.
  • Estonia: Similar to those of Finnish and Swedish cuisine.
  • Finland: Ground beef or a beef/pork blend or reindeer meat, mixed with breadcrumbs soaked in milk or beef stock and finely chopped onions or French onion soup mix. Traditionally served with gravy, boiled or mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam and sometimes, pickled cucumber.
  • Germany: Along with traditional meat blends, a very famous recipe is Königsberger Klopse, which contain anchovy or salted herring, and served with caper sauce.
  • Greece: Fried meatballs with bread, onions, parsley and mint; or stewed meatballs mixed with rice.
  • Hungary: Pork mixed with minced onions, garlic, paprika, salt and breadcrumbs, deep fried in oil or pork fat and eaten with potatoes or fozelék, a thick Hungarian vegetable stew. Liver dumplings are popular in soups.
  • Italy: Meatballs are generally eaten as a main course or in a soup. Made from beef and/or pork and sometimes poultry, salt, black pepper, chopped garlic, olive oil, Romano cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, and parsley, mixed and rolled by hand to a golf ball size.
  • The Netherlands: Usually made from minced beef and pork, eggs, onion and bread crumbs. They are associated with Wednesday, as evidenced by the saying woensdag, gehaktdag (Wednesday, meatball day). They are often served with boiled potatoes and vegetables.
  • Norway: Different types of meatballs, all typically small, with influences from Sweden and Spain, served with with potatoes, pasta or both.
  • Poland: Seasoned ground meat with onion, eggs and bread crumbs, typically fried and served with tomato sauce, mushroom sauce or brown gravy, along with potatoes or rice.
  • Portugal: Meatballs are usually served with tomato sauce and pasta.
  • Romania and Moldova: Meatballs are made with pork or poultry, moistened mashed potatoes and spices, usually deep fried.
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  • Slovenia: Made with ground beef or a blend of pork and beef, served with mashed potatoes and a tomato-based sauce.
  • Spain (and Hispanic America): Originally a Berber or Arab dish, brought to Spain during the period of Muslim rule in the Middle Ages. Spanish albóndigas can be served as an appetizer or main course, often in a tomato sauce. Mexican albóndigas are commonly served in a soup with a light broth and vegetables.
  • Sweden: Ground beef or a blend of ground beef, pork and sometimes veal or elk, sometimes including breadcrumbs soaked in milk, finely chopped onions, broth and often, cream. They are seasoned with white pepper or allspice and salt. Traditionally served with sour cream gravy, mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. Traditionally, they are small, around 2–3 centimeters (.79–1.18 inches) in diameter, although larger meatballs are often served at restaurants.
  • United Kingdom: Faggots are a type of spicy pork meatball. A faggot is traditionally made from pig’s heart, liver and fatty belly meat or bacon minced together, with herbs added for flavoring, and sometimes bread crumbs.
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    If you’re looking for ways to vary your meatballs, look no further!
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    *Rumaki, created at Trader Vic’s, are skewers of broiled, bacon-wrapped chicken livers and water chestnuts.

    †Here it is, food geeks: Lingonberry Order Ericales, Family Ericaceae, Genus Vaccinium, Subgenus Oxycoccus, Species Vitus-idaea. For the lingonberry, everything is the same except the species. The cranberry has four genuses (varieties): V. erythrocarpum, V. macrocarpum, V. microcarpum and V. oxycoccos.

    Blueberry, bilberry/whortleberry and huckleberry are members of the same genus. Lingonberry is also known as cowberry.

      

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    HOLIDAY: Cereal Donuts For National Cereal Day

    Donuts With Cereal Toppinf

    Cereal Donut

    Lactaid Whole Milk

    Types Of Lactaid Milk

    [1] and [2] Cereal-topped donuts and milk from Show Me The Yummy. [3] and [4] Lactaid for everyone! (photo courtesy Lactaid).

     

    March 7th is National Cereal Day, and here’s the big question: Do you drink the leftover milk in your cereal bowl?

    According to a survey by Wakefield Research*, 74% of Americans frequently drink the leftover milk in the bowl after finishing their cereal; 79%* feel that dairy milk tastes best as leftover cereal milk

    We’re one of them. We even pour extra milk into the bowl, just so we’ll have enough left over.

    People love cereal milk so much, that pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City whipped up cereal milk as a standalone drink.

    Quirky? Yes. Tasty? Yes. Here’s a recipe to make you own.

    As a lactose-intolerant American, we just can’t enjoy nondairy milks—almond, coconut and soy milk, for example, on our cereal.

    Thank goodness for Lactaid. We live on their milk, chocolate milk, ice cream and cottage cheese. All are real milk products, neutralized with the addition of lactase (like Lactaid pills), which provides the enzyme our system no longer produces.

    We can drink and eat all we want, no Lactaid pill required.

    Lactaid sent us this special Milk + Cereal Donut recipe from Show Me The Yummy.

    Those of you who have no lactose issues can use regular milk.

    Prep time is 45 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes. We ate three of them today, and they are delish!

    LACTOSE-FREE MILK + CEREAL DONUTS MADE WITH LACTAID

    Ingredients

    For The Donut Base

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (15.25 oz) box cake mix, yellow or chocolate (most store-bought cake mixes are lactose-free)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup Lactaid whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cereal of choice
  • 1 cup crushed cereal of choice
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    For The Vanilla Glaze

  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons Lactaid whole milk
  • Pinch salt
     
    For The Chocolate Glaze
  • 1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons Lactaid Whole Milk, more if necessary
  • Pinch salt
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    Topping

  • Cereal(s) of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the donut base. Combine the milk and 1/2 cup cereal of choice in a small bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and spray a donut pan or mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

    2. WHISK together in a large bowl the cake mix, egg, oil, and milk-cereal mixture until well combined. Stir in the crushed cereal.

    3. ADD the batter to the pan. For a mini-muffin pan, use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to fill the prepared mini muffin pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes. For a standard muffin pan, make a small cut in the corner of a gallon sized Ziplock bag and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into the prepared donut pan. Fill only halfway up or they’ll spill over. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

    4. REMOVE from the pan and let cool.

    5. MAKE the vanilla glaze and/or chocolate glaze. Whisk together glaze ingredients in a medium sized bowl until smooth.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Dunk the cooled donut into the glaze and roll into cereal of choice. Enjoy immediately!

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    *The Lactaid Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,009 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between February 6th and 10th, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older.

     
      

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