Strawberry Oat Balls

One of my favorite things about early summer is the bounty of fresh strawberries. When I was little, we used to go once a year to a local berry farm to pick our own strawberries. Being out in the fields was such a novelty for us suburbanites, and once we’d picked what seemed like a thousand strawberries, we’d take them home and my mom would make strawberry shortcake and lots of homemade jam.

I haven’t picked berries myself yet this year, but I did pick up a bunch of delicious strawberries at a local farm market recently, so I decided to share some with our doggies. When these treats are baking, they smell very much like strawberry shortcake, and most dogs will love the sweetness of the berries and honey.

Using a teaspoon to portion the dough makes a really nice sized treat for most dogs, and the finished treats are still soft enough to break into smaller pieces if you need to for really small pups.

Strawberry Oat Balls

Makes about 72 treats

 

1 cup whole, fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons honey

1 egg

1/4 cup water

2 cups oat flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup oat bran

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.

3. Transfer the strawberry puree to a bowl and combine with the honey, egg, and water.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the oat flour, rice flour, and oat bran.

5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

6. Scoop the dough by the teaspoonful, and use your hands to roll each scoop into a ball.

7. Arrange the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake until the balls are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

These treats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature but will last longer in the refrigerator.

Banana and Peanut Butter Chip Pupcakes with Carob-Cream Cheese Frosting

With mashed banana, peanut butter chips, and a bit of honey, these “pupcakes” are very tasty for canines and humans alike. Even when made with a light or fat free cream cheese, the carob-cream cheese frosting is fairly rich, so these treats should be saved only for very special occasions and given in limited quantities. A big dog is probably okay eating a whole pupcake in one sitting, but for most dogs half, or even less, will be plenty. You can store the remaining pupcakes in the refrigerator for later or be really nice and share with some of your friends—this particular treat makes a very fancy-looking, gourmet gift that any dog would certainly be happy to receive.

I piped the frosting on using a piping bag fitted with a star tip because it makes a beautiful presentation, but you can simply use a spatula to smear a layer of frosting onto the top of each pupcake if you prefer. The “smear” technique uses less frosting per pupcake, and they taste just as good.

Banana and Peanut Butter Chip Pupcakes with Carob-Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 15 cupcakes

 

1 very ripe, medium banana, mashed

1/4 cup honey

1 egg

1/4 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup water

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup natural peanut butter chips

 

Carob-Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz low fat or fat free cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened

3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1/2 cup carob powder

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Combine the mashed banana, honey, egg, applesauce, and water in a bowl.

3. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and stir well to combine.

4. Stir in the peanut butter chips until just incorporated.

5. Bake until the tops of the pupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

6. Allow the pupcakes to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

7. Combine the cream cheese, oil, and carob powder in a bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until the ingredients form a smooth, homogenous, creamy mixture.

8. When the pupcakes are cool, use a piping bag or an offset spatula to top each pupcake with frosting.

9. Server immediately or refrigerate. If refrigerating for later, be sure to allow the frosting to soften at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

 

These treats should be stored in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potato Chips

When you make them yourself, dehydrated vegetable chips are a completely natural and very inexpensive treat for your pooch. For this recipe, all you need is an oven, one sweet potato, and a little bit of time.

The most important factor for success when dehydrating a vegetable is to slice it as thinly as you possibly can. If the slices are too thick, they will take FOREVER to dry out or won’t successfully dry out at all. Using a mandolin slicer is definitely the best option for this task; however, you can use a sharp chefs knife if you don’t have a mandolin handy. If you have a smaller dog, you should then cut the veggie slices into smaller pieces that are more manageable. (For Pacey, who weighs 15 pounds, I cut the larger of the sweet potato rounds into quarters.)

I used a sweet potato for this recipe, but the same method also works really well for dehydrating carrots.

Sweet Potato Chips

Makes about 80 chips

(The yield can vary greatly depending on the size of the veggie and the slicing)

 

1 sweet potato

 

1. Preheat your oven to 120°F. If your oven won’t go as low as 120°F, simply use your oven’s lowest setting. Just be sure to shorten the baking time if you’re using a higher temperature.

2. Slice the sweet potato as thinly as you possibly can.

3. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.

4. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

5. Turn each of the slices over, return to the oven, and bake for an additional 40 minutes. The chips are done when they have lost all of their moisture–and feel light, dry, and crispy.

 

Store these treats in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful memories that I have of baking with my mom when I was growing up. She is a very talented baker and was the one who inspired me to go to culinary school to study baking and pastry arts. When I was still too little to handle cracking eggs or measuring flour, I remember my mom letting me use a fork to make the crisscrosses on top of the peanut butter cookies. I was always so excited to be able to help, and it was so gratifying to make each crisscross look just so—an early sign of my tendency toward obsessive organization I guess.

These tasty dog treats look just like their human-cookie counterparts but are natural, gluten-free, and wheat-free. I made this recipe for Pacey today, and I have to admit that it was still a treat for me to get to make the crisscrosses.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

 

1/2 cup natural, unsalted peanut butter

1/2 cup water

1 large egg

2 cups brown rice flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the peanut butter, water, and egg in a bowl and stir well to combine.

3. Add the flour in two additions, stirring well after each addition.

4. Use your hands to press the mixture together until it forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

5. Use a tablespoon to scoop the dough into portions. Roll each scoop into a ball, and arrange the balls of dough on an ungreased baking sheet.

6. Lightly press the tines of a fork on the top of each ball of dough, flattening the ball into a cookie shape and creating a pattern of parallel lines on top. Turn the fork 90 degrees, and press the tines into the dough once again to form a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie.

7. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 21 minutes. When done baking, turn the oven off, leave the cookies inside the oven with the door cracked, and allow the cookies to dry out for about 2 hours.

 

These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Apple Cinnamon Dog Biscuits

These dog biscuits really do make a good human treat too! The delicious, sweet-tart flavor of the Granny Smith apple is given a boost by the addition of applesauce and honey. Granny Smiths are the classic choice for baking, because they hold up well and won’t turn to mush in the oven, but you can use another apple if you’d like. Besides the fact that they’re naturally yummy, apples are also rich in fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

In those moments when you just don’t have the time to whip up a dog treat recipe, apple chunks (with the core and any seeds removed) make a healthy snack for your pooch, and most dogs really love the crunchy texture.

 

Apple Cinnamon Dog Biscuits

Makes about 40 (1 ½ inch) biscuits

 

1/3 cup grated Granny Smith apple (peel removed first)

3 tablespoons unsweetened natural applesauce

1/4 cup honey

1 large egg

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups whole wheat flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the grated apple, applesauce, honey, egg, and water in a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Sift the ground cinnamon into the flour.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions, stirring well after each addition.

5. Knead the mixture by hand until a smooth, flexible dough forms.

6. On a very generously floured countertop, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the pieces on an ungreased baking sheet.

7. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature but will last longer in the refrigerator.

Doggie Dim Sum

I love Chinese food of all kinds but especially dumplings. When I was living in Poughkeepsie, New York, my friends and I discovered the greatest hole-in-the-wall dumpling place. (Due to some confusing signage, there’s still much debate as to whether this restaurant is named “Dumplings Palace” or “Palace Dumplings.”) The menu features several types of soup, a couple seaweed salads, and about 40 different types of dumplings. The kitchen staff consists solely of one little old man who works tirelessly to make all of the dumplings from scratch. Each type of dumpling at this place was more delicious than the next, and my mouth is watering just reminiscing about it.

This dog-friendly recipe is a take-off on the Chinese dumplings that I love so much. I used cheese as the filling (because what dog doesn’t love cheese?), but you could use diced fruit, fully cooked bacon or lean ground meat, or any combination that you like. These dumplings are a great snack for larger dogs, but they can be messy and unmanageable for smaller dogs—especially with more crumbly fillings. If you’ve got a smaller dog, you may want to cut the dumpling in half or quarters or even to make the dumplings without any filling to cut down on the mess.

Cheese Dumplings

Makes about 20

 

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1 cup whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 large egg

3/4 cup homemade or low sodium, low fat chicken broth

Low fat cheese cubes, as needed

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flours, baking powder, and ginger in a bowl. Stir in the egg and broth. Knead the mixture by hand until a smooth dough forms.

3. On a very lightly floured surface, roll the dough out as thinly as you can. Use 3-inch round cutter (or the rim of a glass) to cut the dough into circles.

4. Place a cheese cube on the center of each circle of dough. Bring the edges of the dough over the filling and pinch it together to form a little bundle.

5. Arrange the dumplings on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake until firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

6. Allow the dumplings to cool completely before serving.

 

These treats must be stored in the refrigerator.