Mini Corn Muffins

Cornbread is a general term that is used for a fairly wide variety of quickbread recipes made with cornmeal and baking powder. As the name “quickbread” suggests, cornbread batter is quick to mix and just as quick to bake. I had these mini corn muffins made from start to finish in under fifteen minutes.

To produce cornmeal, fresh corn is dried and then ground into a meal. Cornmeal is available in two varieties: yellow and white, depending on the color of the corn that was used to make it. Yellow corn is naturally sweeter than white corn, which makes yellow cornmeal slightly sweeter than white cornmeal; however, the two types can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

There is some debate about cornmeal amongst pet owners. Dog food (not treats!) should make up about 90% of your pet’s diet, and I believe that there is a very valid argument against cornmeal being used as a main ingredient in these types of commercial dog foods. Yes, some dogs have a sensitivity to corn. Yes, dogs are naturally carnivores and digest meat protein easier than corn protein. But for me the real problem is that commercial dog food companies are using cornmeal as a cheap substitution for meat protein in a product that is being marketed as high quality, nutritious, and even “meaty.”

However, some dog owners are choosing to eliminate corn completely from their dog’s diet. Here are my two cents on that issue. Like most things, cornmeal is okay in moderation. As with all the recipes on this blog, these muffins are intended to be given only once in a while as a special treat. Cornmeal adds both flavor and texture to dog treat recipes, and unless your dog has a sensitivity or allergy, I personally don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with occasionally incorporating it into your dog’s diet.

If you do object to cornmeal, in many recipes you can substitute oat flour instead.

Mini Corn Muffins

Makes about 36 mini muffins

 

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup chicken broth (homemade or low fat and low sodium)

1 large egg

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Place the honey, oil, broth, and egg in a bowl and stir to combine.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to just combine.

5. Lightly prepare a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full of batter.

6. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when touched, about 8 minutes.

 

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

Tuna Fish Biscuits

Tuna is a very lean protein that is chock full of vitamins and minerals. It’s a good source of B3, B6 and B12, folic acid, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial to your dog, because they support joint mobility, improve the skin and coat, and promote heart and kidney health.

Please note that tuna is only healthy for your dog if it has been cooked. (No doggie sushi!) Never, never feed your dog raw tuna.  Certain types of raw fish, including tuna and salmon, can contain a parasite that causes a potentially fatal disease in dogs known as “salmon poisoning.” For your faithful friend, always stick to thoroughly cooked tuna steaks or canned tuna. When it comes to canned tuna, you should opt for light tuna rather than albacore, because light tuna contains a lower level of mercury. And to keep the fat content to a minimum, be sure to choose tuna packed in water rather than oil.

One additional warning: every dog that has tried these treats has gone completely CRAZY over them! Be prepared for lots of whining and begging for more–even from the most finicky eaters.

Tuna Fish Biscuits

Makes about 80 (1-inch) biscuits

 

1 (5-ounce) can chunk light tuna in water

1 egg

1/2 cup water

1 cup cornmeal, plus more as needed for dusting

1 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup oat bran

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the tuna along with all the water and juices into the bowl of a food processor. Process into a puree.

3. Transfer the tuna puree to a bowl, and add the egg and water.

4. Add the cornmeal, rice flour, and oat bran, and stir to combine. Use your hands to knead the mixture into a smooth dough.

5. On a lightly dusted countertop, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/2-inch thick. (This dough is not very flexible, so you won’t be able to roll it out very thinly.) Cut the dough out into pieces using your desired cookie cutter, and arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake until the treats feel firm to the touch, about 18 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the biscuits to dry out inside the oven for about 2 hours.

 

These treats must be stored in the refrigerator.

Bacon Waffles

The idea for these breakfast time treats was sparked by a recipe from Three Dog Bakery along with my own dog’s irrepressible love of bacon. And while I generally try to avoid any recipe that requires special equipment, I figured I would make an exception here since the waffle maker doesn’t even have to be plugged in (or be in working order for that matter). Plus, that iconic waffle design is just too darn adorable.

The way you cut out this dough will depend entirely on the size and shape of the waffle maker that you’re using. I was using an 8-inch round maker, so I used a template to cut the rolled dough into 8-inch circles that fit perfectly into my waffle maker. (For those of you who aren’t as anal retentive as I am, you can just eyeball it.) I decided to cut the pressed waffles into quarters, which worked out fine for larger dogs. For smaller dogs you’ll probably want to cut your waffles into smaller pieces, or you can just break the waffles into bite-sized pieces after they’re baked.

Since these treats contain bacon, they should be stored in the refrigerator.

Bacon Waffles

Makes about 20 (large) servings

 

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup cornmeal

3 slices crispy bacon, crumbled or finely chopped

1 egg

1 tablespoon bacon fat or vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, and bacon.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, fat or oil, and water.

4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and knead to form a smooth dough. Divide the dough in thirds.

5. Generously dust the countertop with flour, and roll the first piece of dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into pieces an appropriate size and shape to fit your waffle iron. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

6. Place the first dough cut-outs into an unplugged waffle iron and press down firmly in order to imprint the design into the dough. Carefully remove the pressed dough from the waffle iron and cut it into pieces using a knife or pizza cutter. Repeat with the remainder of the dough cut-outs.

7. Arrange the waffles on a prepared baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50 minutes.

8. Allow the waffles to cool completely before serving.

 

NOTE: If you’re concerned about the fat content, you can easily use turkey bacon instead of the real thing.

Parmesan Cheese Bites

Dogs love cheese. It’s a universal canine characteristic—at least in my very non-professional opinion–so these little treats are always a big hit. The Parmesan imparts a strong cheesy flavor (and fills the kitchen with a delicious aroma as it bakes), but in a pinch you could easily substitute finely shredded cheddar or pretty much any mild cheese that you happen to have sitting in the fridge. Just remember that switching up the type of cheese may affect the baking time or the amount of water that is needed.

I like to cut these treats into small bite-sized pieces rather than large biscuits, because the fresh Parmesan cheese is packed with flavor (and you also never want to overload you dog with too much dairy). For this recipe, I used a 1-inch round cookie cutter. If you decide to make larger biscuits, you’ll need to increase the baking time to 20 minutes or more.

Since these treats contain cheese, they are best stored in the refrigerator.

Parmesan Cheese Bites

Makes about 125 small treats

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

3/4 cup warm water

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, and cheese. Add the egg and mix to combine.

3. Add the water a little at a time, kneading the mixture by hand to form a smooth dough. (If the dough starts getting too wet, don’t add all of the water. If the dough is too dry, add more water a tablespoon at a time until the dough reaches the right consistency for rolling.)

4. Generously dust the countertop with cornmeal. Divide the dough in half, and roll the first half out into an even sheet about ¼ inch thick.

5. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into your desired shape and size. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. If the dough is sticking at all, try dusting both sides with more cornmeal.

6. Arrange the treats on a lightly greased baking sheet, and bake until firm to the touch, about 16 minutes. You do not want these treats to get too brown. I like to turn the treats over halfway through the baking time to help ensure even color.

7. Allow the treats to cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.

NOTE:  These treats are not extra crunchy, which can be a nice change from traditional hard dog biscuits. But if your doggie prefers crunchier treats, try leaving the baked biscuits in the oven (with it turned off) with the oven door widely cracked open for a few hours to overnight.