DIY Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

The recipe that I’m sharing with you today is a family favorite at my house. The cinnamon dough is prepared as if you’re making cut out cookies, but the result is a hard, dry ornament that is sturdy enough to hang on your Christmas tree for years to come. (Trust me–0ur tree still features a dough ornament that I made when I was in preschool.) And the heavenly cinnamon scent that fills the house as these ornaments bake is just an added holiday bonus!

Obviously you can cut your ornaments into any shape, but I love the idea of personalized dog bone ornaments. They are very simple to make, and they are a perfect holiday gift for all those dog lovers in your life. This year I made the personalized dog bones, plus dog breed silhouettes, and a heart/dog bone combo (see the photo below). Your only limitation is the types of cookie cutters that you have available. Although, I did find that large ornaments are much more difficult to transfer to the baking sheet, so I would recommend using cookie cutters no bigger than 5 inches or so in length.

Once baked, these ornaments are beautiful enough to leave plain–just add a piece of ribbon, twine, or string to use as a hanger and call it a day. However, they are also a great blank canvases for all kinds of embellishments. I simply wrote my family’s dogs’ names on the bones using white fabric paint (a.k.a. “puffy paint”). You might also try using acrylic craft paint, spray paint, glitter, sequins, buttons, rick-rack, jingle bells, or any other adornment that can be adhered using craft glue or a hot glue gun. Keep it simple or go crafty crazy: it’s totally up to you.

Christmas Ornaments

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

Yield will vary depending on the size of your cookie cutters

 

1 cup ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting

3/4 cup applesauce

 

    For this project you will need: cookie cutters, an offset spatula, a plastic drinking straw, scissors, string or thin ribbon, and plus any craft supplies that you want to use to decorate your ornaments. I used white "puffy paint" (pictured here), but you could also use acrylic or spray paint, glitter, sequins, buttons, rick-rack, jingle bells, etc.

For this project you will also need: cookie cutters, an offset metal spatula, a plastic drinking straw, scissors, string or thin ribbon, plus any items that you want to use to decorate your ornaments. I used white “puffy paint” (pictured at right).

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

2. Place the cinnamon in a bowl. Slowly stir in the applesauce. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

3. Lightly sprinkle a large piece of wax paper with cinnamon, and roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough sticks to your rolling pin or wax paper, sprinkle with more ground cinnamon.

4. Use your desired cookie cutters to cut the dough into pieces. After each piece is cut, press the end of a plastic drinking straw into each piece of dough to cut out a round hole. (This step is VERY important because you will later use this hole to attach the ribbon that will serve as the hanger for your ornament.)

5. Use an offset metal spatula to carefully transfer each piece of dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can arrange the pieces close together on the baking sheet–they will not spread during baking–but the pieces should not be touching each other.

6. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour. Flip each ornament over, and return them to the oven for an additional hour.

7. Transfer the ornaments from the baking sheet to a cooling rack or a paper towel on the countertop.

8. When the ornaments are completely cool, add the hangers:  first cut a length of ribbon for each ornament. (I cut my ribbon pieces about 4 inches long). On each ornament, thread a piece of ribbon through the hole that you poked with the straw. Tie the two ends of the ribbon together (in a bow or double knot) to form a loop that you can use to hang the ornament on your Christmas tree.

9. At this point, you may choose to use the ornaments as-is, or you may want to decorate the ornaments with paint, glitter, sequins, or other embellishments. Once the ornaments are decorated it’s best to allow a full 24 hours for them to dry completely before hanging them or wrapping them up for holiday gift-giving.

 

NOTE:  As always, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on pets during the holiday season so that they don’t get into any decorations that could make them sick. (i.e. eating Christmas ornaments, holly, pine needles, etc). This basic cinnamon ornament dough is completely non-toxic to your pets; however, please take extra care if you add any decorations to your ornaments that pose a choking hazard.

Pumpkin Pupcakes

I don’t bake doggie cupcakes very often (mostly because a couple of my taste-testers are very messy eaters), but they are the perfect treat for special occasions. It takes surprisingly little effort to make beautiful dog-safe cupcakes that look and smell yummy enough for humans to eat. The Pumpkin Pupcakes recipe that I’m sharing today smells particularly delicious when it’s baking on a crisp Autumn day. The pumpkin flavor pairs really well with natural peanut butter frosting, and the frosted pupcakes would make an excellent addition to any Halloween, Thanksgiving, or birthday celebration.

 Pumpkin Pupcakes

Pumpkin Pupcakes

Makes about 24 mini cupcakes

2/3 cup oat flour

2/3 cup brown rice flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups canned 100% pure pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

Natural, unsalted peanut butter, as desired for frosting (optional)

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Line each cavity of a mini muffin tin with paper liners or very lightly coat each cavity with canola oil.

3. Combine the oat flour, rice flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, and stir to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, honey, and oil.

5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined.

6. Spoon the batter into each of the prepared cavities of the mini muffin tin. Be careful not to overfill; each cup should be about 3/4 full of batter.

7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tops of the pupcakes are firm to the touch.

8. Allow the pupcakes to cool completely before removing them from the mini muffin tin.

9. If desired, frost the top of each pupcake with a thin layer of natural peanut butter.

NOTE: Paper cupcake liners are a pretty touch that make for a very nice presentation; however, you should always REMOVE THE PAPER LINERS BEFORE FEEDING THE TREAT TO YOUR DOG.

 

These treats are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

Spiced Pear Dog Treats

“Spiced pear” may be a flavor that seems a tad bit sophisticated for dog treats at first glance. However, these treats were a big hit with my dog Pacey. Any dog that likes apples is sure to enjoy the fruity sweetness of pears, and the blend of three different spices gives this recipe a little more pizazz. In fact, the balance of sweetness and spice makes these the perfect treats for your dog to share with YOU! Although to people they’re more like a cracker than a cookie, the treats are actually pretty flavorful–they also fill the house with an amazing autumnal aroma as they bake.

I cut my batch of treats into really large pear-shaped pieces, about 3 1/2 inches long. If you use a smaller cutter, be sure to keep an eye on the treats as they bake, because you don’t want the treats to get overly browned and you probably won’t need the full 20 minutes of baking time that is listed in the recipe.

Spiced Pear Treats

Spiced Pear Dog Treats

Makes about 12 large treats

 

1 medium pear, peeled and grated

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup water

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground ginger

1 pinch ground allspice

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Place the pear, honey, and water in a bowl and stir to combine.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, while stirring to combine. Use your hands to knead the mixture until it forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

5. On a floured countertop, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip each of the treats over and continue baking until firm to the touch and slightly browned, about 10 minutes more. Allow the treats to cool completely before serving.

 

Store these treats in the refrigerator.

Apple Turnovers

Apple season is just beginning here in Southern Pennsylvania, and I have been busy plotting all of the scrumptious apple desserts that I’m going to be baking this Fall. I feel that I must disclose that my family is a little upset, because I decided to make these apple turnovers for Pacey before I made any apple turnovers, dumplings, or pies for the people in my life. (Sorry, folks!)

Since the apples in the filling will release steam as they cook, it is necessary to cut a vent in the top of each turnover. When it comes to that step, you can keep it simple or use your creativity. I just used a paring knife to cut slits in the dough, but you could use a tiny cookie cutter instead. If you happen to have small enough letter cutters, you could even cut a monogram or initial into the dough.

Due to the release of steam, it is also important to seal each turnover very well after you do the “turning over.” To do this you can simply press the dough together firmly with your fingers. I pressed the tines of a fork into the dough around the edge of the turnover to keep it closed and also add a special touch. If the turnover is not sealed properly it may pop open in the oven. If that happens, the flavor won’t be changed but the turnover sure won’t look very pretty.

These treats must be large enough to contain the filling, so for most dogs you’ll need to break each treat in half (or even smaller pieces) before serving it. If you don’t have a round cutter about 3 or 4 inches in diameter, you can use a saucer or small bowl as a template to cut out the dough circles. Simply flip the saucer upside down onto the sheet of rolled-out dough and use a sharp paring knife to cut around the saucer.

Apple Turnover

I made these turnovers using local apples from the first harvest of honeycrisp at Hollabaugh Brothers Farm.

Apple Turnovers

Makes about 8 treats

Dough:

2 tablespoons unsweetened natural applesauce

2 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup water

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Filling:

1/3 cup small diced apples **peel, core, and seeds removed**

1 tablespoon unsweetened natural applesauce

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Egg wash:

1 large egg

1 tablespoon skim milk (optional)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. To make the dough:  place the applesauce, honey, and water in a bowl and stir to combine.

3. Mix in the flour. Use your hands to knead until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

4. To make the filling:  stir the apples, applesauce, and cinnamon together until the apples are well-coated with the applesauce. Reserve.

5. Roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut the dough into circles. Fold each round of dough in half and then open it back up, so that you can tell where the center of the circle is.

6. In the top hemisphere (“top half”) of each round of dough, cut a small vent using a paring knife or decorative cutter.

7. Place about 1 teaspoon of the apple filling onto the bottom hemisphere (“bottom half”) of each round of dough.

8. Fold the top half of the circle down over the bottom half, so that you have a half moon shape. Firmly press the two edges of dough together to seal the turnover.

9. Arrange the turnovers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

10. To make the egg wash: combine the egg and the milk, and whisk well.

11. Use a pastry brush to LIGHTLY brush the top of each turnover with eggwash.

12. Bake until the dough is light golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. The filling will be piping hot when the treats come out of the oven, so be sure to allow the turnovers to cool completely before serving.

These treats must be stored in the refrigerator.

Cinnamon Roll Treats

Freshly baked cinnamon rolls are truly one of life’s greatest pleasures. Unfortunately for dogs, they can’t have all of the delicious butter and sugar that make our cinnamon rolls so heavenly, but these cute little dog treats do capture the beautiful, cinnamon-y spiral of the people-food version.

The two-tone spiral on the finished treats may look complicated, but the recipe is actually fairly easy to make. The only tricky part is shaping the dough. It’s important to put the time and energy into rolling each of the dough layers out into an even rectangle so that you end up with a neatly rolled log. If the dough layers don’t start out at an even thickness and shape, you won’t end up with a nice, uniform spiral in the end.

You’ll notice right away that the honey dough is a lot “softer” and stickier than the cinnamon dough. To ensure that the assembled log of dough stays together, be sure to allow time for the log to chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. After the dough has chilled, you’ll find that it’s much easier to slice and that you’ll have much better looking treats as a result.

These treats are HUGE. Unless you have a monster dog, you’ll need to cut or break each treat into small pieces before serving it. Don’t worry, these treats are very soft so that you can easily break off appropriately sized chunks using your hands (or you could slice them into more uniform pieces using a knife).

Cinnamon Roll Treats

Cinnamon Roll Treats

Makes about 18 large treats

Honey Dough:

3 cups unbleached white flour

1 egg

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup honey

Cinnamon Dough:

3 cups whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Make the honey dough: combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to combine, and then knead by hand until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and reserve.

3. Make the cinnamon dough: combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to combine, and then knead by hand until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

4. Roll the cinnamon dough out into a rectangle about 8 1/2 inches wide by 12 inches long and 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with the reserved honey dough, creating a rectangle of the same dimensions.

5. Place the rectangle of cinnamon dough on top of the rectangle of honey dough and gently press down to adhere the two layers of dough together. Use a sharp knife to trim any ragged edges off of the dough, creating a neat rectangle.

6. Starting with the edge of the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up (like you would a jelly roll) to form a log about 12 inches long.

8. Wrap the log completely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

9. Remove the plastic wrap from the log. Using a sharp slicing knife, slice the log into slices 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. The slices will be about 3 inches wide. (Try to keep the treats as round as possible, but as they’re cut the slices will inevitably squish a little bit to form more of a “biscotti” shape with a flattened bottom edge.)

9. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip each treat over, and return to the oven. Continue baking until the treats are lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 10 minutes more.

These treats are best stored in the refrigerator.

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.

Snickerdoodles

A snickerdoodle is a type of sugar cookie that is traditionally coated in cinnamon-sugar before it’s baked. In this dog-friendly version, the snickerdoodles are sweetened with honey and packed with cinnamon flavor. If your dog really likes cinnamon, you can also sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon on top of each cookie immediately after they come out of the oven.

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Makes 28 cookies

3/4 cup oat flour

3/4 cup brown rice flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons honey

1 large egg

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the flours and cinnamon in bowl.

3. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the honey, egg, and water. Stir until the mixture is well combined. Use your hands to press the mixture into a smooth dough.

4. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter, and arrange the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

5. Bake until the cookies are golden brown and firm to the touch, 19-20 minutes. When the cookies are done baking, turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and leave the cookies to dry out for 1 to 2 hours.

 

These cookies may be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Carrot Mini Muffins

Bunnies aren’t the only animals that get to enjoy eating carrots this time of year! Carrots are possibly the most nutritious vegetable for dogs. They are low in calories and high in antioxidants, beta carotene, and soluble and insoluble fiber. The carrots in this recipe are pureed, but chunks or slices of carrots or baby carrots can be fed as a snack to help clean your dog’s teeth naturally. Frozen carrots also make a great chew-toy for puppies that are teething.

Carrot Mini Muffins

Makes 38 muffins

 

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

3 medium carrots, peeled, shredded

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch cinnamon

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the honey, oil, egg, and carrots in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.

4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir well to combine.

5. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners, and spray each one lightly with cooking spray. Fill each mini muffin cup about 2/3 of the way full with the batter.

6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 16 minutes.

 

Store these treats in the refrigerator.

Oatmeal Cookies

I’ll admit that these doggie drop cookies don’t have exactly the same texture as their traditional “people cookie” counterparts, but my taste-tester gave them an enthusiastic two paws up anyway. I would describe the consistency as slightly rubbery, but the crunchiness of the oats provides a nice textural contrast to the sponginess, and Pacey gobbled them right up.

Grains were not an original part of the canine diet. Dogs, who are natural carnivores, only started eating grains when we humans started feeding them to our domesticated pets. Today, grains are a common ingredient in most commercial dog foods and biscuits. If you’re going to feed grains to your dog (which many of us already do), oats are an excellent choice. Oats contain less gluten than wheat flours, so they are generally tolerated very well by dogs’ digestive systems. Oats have significant nutritional value as well. They are high in protein and are also a source of iron, magnesium, silicon, and B vitamins. Oats are also believed to calm the nervous system (of dogs as well as people), so they can be especially beneficial to anxious dogs.

Oats are a great source of soluble fiber. This has an up side and down side. The up side: oats are great for dogs that are getting up in years and are starting to have trouble with bowel regularity. The flip side: too much added fiber can cause diarrhea in dogs with more sensitive systems. If you’re concerned, just feed oatmeal very occasionally and keep an eye peeled for your dog’s response. (Note: unless your dog has some sort of allergy, the amount of oatmeal in these cookies should not pose a problem if they’re fed sparingly as a treat.)

I call for organic oats in this recipe simply because organically grown oats have a higher nutritive value than traditionally grown oats, but you can use the old fashioned kind if you’d like.

 

Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 45 cookies

 

1 1/2 cups (uncooked) organic oats

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl.

3. Add the egg, applesauce, honey, and water, and stir to combine.

4. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto a prepared baking sheet. The cookies should be placed 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart to allow for any spreading.

5. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 11 minutes. When finished baking, turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the cookies to dry for about 2 hours.

 

These moist cookies are best stored in the refrigerator.

Gingerbread Cookies

Until I started doing research for this blog I wasn’t even sure if ground ginger was safe for dogs. I have since discovered that a small amount of ginger not only is safe but can actually be quite beneficial. A bit of ginger will ease nausea and motion sickness, and some believe that it can also help prevent arthritis, colitis, bronchitis, and other inflammations. If your dog is prone to motion sickness, you may want to keep a few of these cookies on hand in your freezer. Give your pup the treat about 30 minutes before hopping into the car to help ward off nausea.

I chose to cut my cookies into the traditional gingerbread man shape and decorate them using melted yogurt chips, which nicely mimics the look of the sugary icing that adorns our human baked goods. White yogurt chips can be found in most health food stores, but you could also substitute candy coating melts, carob chips, or specialty “dog treat coating chips,” or simply leave your gingerbread men au naturale.

These crunchy treats should be stored in an airtight container.

 Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 45 (3-inch cookies)

 

1/2 cup water

2/3 cup molasses

3 1/2 cups wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground ginger

White yogurt chips, as needed for piping (optional)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the water and molasses.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and spices.

4. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, and knead until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

5. Generously flour the countertop and roll the dough out into an even sheet about 1/4-inch thick. You may also need to flour the top of the dough to keep the rolling pin from sticking. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into shapes.

6. Arrange the cookies on a prepared baking sheet, and bake until firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

7. If you’re going to pipe decorations, bring a small pot of water to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.

8. Place the yogurt chips in a glass or metal bowl just large enough to fit on top of the pot of simmering water. Place the bowl onto the pot. Be sure to stir frequently with a rubber spatula as the yogurt chips melts to prevent them from scorching. Be very careful, because if the yogurt gets overheated and scorches it becomes virtually inedible. If the water begins to boil vigorously enough to actually touch the bowl, remove the bowl from the pot and turn down the heat before replacing the bowl. To avoid overheating, be sure to remove the bowl from the heat as soon as the yogurt coating is completely melted.

9. Transfer the melted coating to a piping bag. Use scissors to snip off the very tip of the piping bag. (You don’t really need to use a coupler or piping tip for this small project).

10. Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe on your desired design. Be sure to allow the coating time to set completely before serving.