Christmas Tree Treats

Each year I bake dozens of Christmas cookies to deliver to my neighbors, and this year I expanded my list of recipients to include my neighbors’ dogs. I made these cute little Christmas tree dog treats, wrapped them in decorative cellophane treat bags (from a craft store), and tied each package with a ribbon. The recipe is simple and inexpensive but results in a beautiful holiday gift that is sure to be greatly appreciated. The treats are also completely natural, so you can give them in good conscience! They are wheat free, and the fresh spinach puree gives the treats a festive, dark green color and a bundle of healthy nutrients.

At first glance spinach may not seem like a flavor that is particularly dog-friendly; however, literally every dog that has ever tried my spinach flavored treats has happily gobbled them up and begged for more. Who knew? Even dogs that do not typically like to eat veggies seem to really enjoy the spinach flavor.

So, until our next blog post in the new year, See Spot Bake wishes you Yappy Howlidays, Feliz Navidog, and all of the other ridiculous dog-related yuletide sentiments! But seriously, MERRY CHRISTMAS and a YAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your pack!

ChristmasTrees

Christmas Tree Treats

Makes about 40 (1 1/2 inch) dog treats


8 oz organic spinach leaves

2 eggs

1/2 cup water

2 1/2 cups white rice flour, plus more for dusting


1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Combine the spinach, eggs, and water in a blender. Blend to form a smooth puree.

3. Place the white rice flour in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour the spinach puree into the flour, stirring to combine well. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

4. On a floured countertop, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Using a Christmas tree cookie cutter (or any other cookie cutter of your choosing), cut the treats out. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The treats can be placed close together, because they will not spread during baking.

5. Bake on the middle rack for 8 minutes. Flip each of the treats over, and return to the oven to continue baking for an additional 8 minutes. Allow the treats to cool completely before serving.


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

Grain Free Chicken Dog Biscuits

Grain free baking is still new to me. I have worked with buckwheat and nut flours before, but this was the first time that I had tried using bean flour. Nowadays there are a variety of bean flours on grocery store shelves: black bean, garbanzo/chickpea, fava bean, green pea, soy, and white bean. For this recipe I used Bob’s Red Mill “Gluten Free Garbanzo and Fava Flour.” You may see this two bean mixture labeled by other brands as “garfava”. If you can’t easily find it pre-made, you can simply mix together equal parts garbanzo flour and fava bean flour. (Or try using either all garbanzo flour or all fava flour.)

I found this dough to be much stickier than that made with a wheat flour. Be warned that you’ll need plenty of extra flour for dusting the countertop, rolling pin, cookie cutter, and pretty much anything else that is going to come in contact with the dough. Otherwise, I found it very easy to work with. The dough came together quickly, rolled out easily, and baked up with a nice, soft texture.

Like many “alternative” flours, the garbanzo and fava flour has a distinct aroma and flavor. My taste-tester Pacey is picky about strong flavors, so he generally prefers treats made with rice or wheat flours (which taste blander); however, Pacey definitely seemed to like these biscuits better than any of the other grain free recipes that I’ve tried thus far.

Grain Free Chicken Biscuits

Grain Free Chicken Dog Biscuits

Makes about 20 (3-inch) biscuits

 

2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo & Fava Flour (OR 1 1/4 cup garbanzo/chickpea flour and 1 1/4 cup fava bean flour), plus more for dusting

1/2 cup homemade or low fat, low sodium chicken broth

1 egg

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the flour in a bowl. Add the chicken broth and egg, and stir to combine.

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

4. Dust the countertop very generously with flour. Dust the dough with a little extra flour before rolling it out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick.

5. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces. (If needed, dip the cookie cutter in flour to help keep the dough from sticking to it.) Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip each biscuit over, then return to the oven to continue baking until the treats are firm to the touch and baked through, about 8 minutes more.

 

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

Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies

This week I continued my foray into the wonderful world of grain free baking. Like wheat, many beans (like soy beans or chickpeas) and seeds (such as buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa) can be ground into flours that are great for baking dog treats. Most of these grain-free flours are widely available in grocery stores, but you can also very easily create your own by grinding the whole beans or seeds into a powder using a grain mill, food processor, blender, or coffee grinder.

Peanut butter is one of my dog Pacey’s favorite flavors, and my Peanut Butter Cookies are unquestionably See Spot Bake’s bestseller at the farmers’ market. To create a grain free version of this favorite, I replaced the brown rice flour in my original recipe with buckwheat flour and adjusted the moisture content. I found that the buckwheat flour baked up denser than rice flour or wheat flour, so I recommend rolling this dough out as thinly as possible to keep the finished treats from being too heavy.

I used a store-bought buckwheat flour in this recipe simply because I already had it in my pantry. To make your own buckwheat flour, you would buy “buckwheat groats” (they may also be labeled “raw” or “hulled”) and grind them into a powder using any of the appliances that I mentioned above.

 

Grain Free Peanut Butter Treats

Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 26 (2-inch) treats

 

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1 egg

2 cups buckwheat flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

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

3. Add the flour in two additions, mixing well after each addition. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough. Use your hands to knead and press the dough together into a ball.

4. Roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. (You do not need to dust the countertop with flour.) Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces.

5. Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake until the cookies are firm and golden brown, about 15 minutes. If desired, flip the treats over halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning.

 

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

Sweet Beet Treats

The red beet, or “beetroot” as it’s called in many parts of the world, has been touted as one of nature’s superfoods. The root vegetable is jam-packed with iron, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins A, B, and C. The beet is also a detoxifier, which simply means that it encourages the liver to cleanse the body of toxins, and it is also thought to improve blood flow and stamina. And on top of all of these health benefits, beets have a naturally sweet flavor that most dogs will love.

The beet’s intense red pigment gives these dog treats a beautiful pinkish color, but you should promptly rinse out your blender, bowl, utensils, etc. so that the natural dye doesn’t stain your equipment. Be aware that the color can also transfer to your hands while you’re peeling and cutting the beet. But don’t panic! It will go away with a few good hand-washings. (I also recently heard a tip that washing your hands with coarse salt, in addition to soap and water, will help pull the color out of your skin more quickly.)

At this point some of you are probably wondering, “how do I shop for the perfect beet?” When in the produce aisle, look for those that are uniform in shape and medium in size. (In this case, bigger is not better. Larger beets will taste less sweet and more earthy.) You also want to find beets that feel very firm to the touch; a beet that feels soft is old and will not be the best quality.

Sweet Beet Treats

Sweet Beet Treats

Makes 50 (3-inch long) dog treats

 

1 medium-sized red beet

Natural apple juice, as needed

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup natural applesauce

3 cups whole wheat flour, plus as needed for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

 

1. Lightly peel the beet using a vegetable peeler and roughly chop it into pieces. Place the beet in a blender and blend until smooth. If needed, add apple juice by the tablespoonful to keep the blender moving easily. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Strain the pureed beet through the fine-mesh strainer, using a spoon or rubber spatula to press down on the pulp and squeeze out the maximum amount of juice into the bowl. Reserve 1/3 cup of beet juice for this recipe. You can discard the pulp, and use the remainder of the beet juice for another purpose (or just drink it up—it’s naturally sweet and healthy for you!)

2. Preheat the oven to 350F.

3. Combine the 1/3 cup of beet juice, oil, and applesauce in a bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing constantly. Continue mixing until a smooth, homogenous dough forms. (The dough is slightly sticky.)

6. Generously dust the countertop with flour, and roll the dough out in to a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the treats out.

7. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

8. Bake until the treats are firm to the touch, about 14 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

NOTE:  These treats bake up very soft and cakey, so they make a great choice for older dogs or any dog with dental issues.

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

Grain Free Dog Treats

In the past few weeks I have had a handful of people ask me about making a grain free dog treat. In fact it seems like I’m encountering more and more dogs who are on a completely grain free diet. The recipe that I’m sharing today is perfectly tasty to make as-is, but it also makes a great baseline to add your own flavoring ingredients and creativity. For example it would be simple to add minced herbs or small diced veggies or to replace all or part of the broth with canned tuna water or freshly squeezed veggie juice.

It may confuse some of you that the main ingredient in a grain free recipe is buckwheat flour. Contrary to popular belief, buckwheat is NOT a type of wheat. As a matter of fact, buckwheat is not a grain or cereal of any kind. (So, yes, it is gluten free!) Buckwheat is actually a seed that is harvested from a flowering plant closely related to rhubarb. The pyramid-shaped buckwheat seeds, or “groats”, may be toasted and sold whole or may be ground into a rich, gray flour labeled as buckwheat or kasha flour. Buckwheat flour is now widely available at most grocery and health food stores, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it in your local baking aisle.

Grain Free Treats

Basic Grain Free Dog Treats

Makes 60 (2-inch) treats

 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup chicken or beef broth

2 cups buckwheat flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Combine the olive oil, egg, and broth.

3. Slowly pour the buckwheat flour into the egg mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate.

4. Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth, homogenous dough, about 2 minutes.

5. Roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into pieces using your desired cookie cutter.

6. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

7. Bake for 6 minutes. Flip each of the treats over, then return to the oven and continue baking until the treats are firm to the touch, about 6 minutes more.

 

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.

Sweet Potato Dog Biscuits

The main ingredient in this recipe is a sweet potato. Not a yam. Despite the way that we Americans tend to use the two terms interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes are NOT the same thing. True yams have a rough, dark skin with white, purple, or red flesh. They are also native to Africa and other tropical regions, and do not grow well in North America. The tubers so familiar to our Thanksgiving tables are actually sweet potatoes. Their orange flesh is soft and sweet and their skin is coppery-orange. Sweet potatoes are also moister and less starchy than yams, and the ends of sweet potatoes are tapered whereas yams have a more rounded shape.

Now that you’re educated on correct tuber terminology, it’s time to choose the perfect sweet potato. When in the produce aisle, you want to look for a sweet potato with smooth skin that is free of bruises and/or cuts. You do not want to find a lot of white strings sprouting out, because that is a sign that the sweet potato will be tough (because it has overmatured).

For this recipe, microwaving is the quickest way to prepare the sweet potato for mashing. (However, you can bake or boil if you prefer.) First, use a fork or paring knife to pierce the sweet potato’s skin a few times on each side. Place the sweet potato on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes. When it’s done the flesh should be very soft and the skin should be very easy to peel away with your hand or a paring knife. Remove the skin and discard it. Mash the flesh using a fork. It’s that easy! Just be sure to allow the mash to cool before you add it to the other ingredients in this recipe.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Makes about 7 dozen (1-inch) treats

 

3/4 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)

2 eggs

1/4 cup water

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the mashed sweet potato, eggs, and water in a bowl.

3. Stir in the whole wheat flour, and knead until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the pieces on an ungreased baking sheet; they can be placed rather close together because these treats will not spread during baking.

5. Bake until firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. If desired, flip the cookies over halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning.

 

These treats should be stored in the refrigerator.

Crunchy Beef Biscuits

The dog treats that I typically share on this blog have a soft texture, because I think that more closely mimics the look of “people cookies” (plus, my dog Pacey likes soft treats best). But I realize that sometimes it’s good to switch things up, so this recipe yields super crunchy biscuits that have a texture similar to Milk Bones.

It contains only two ingredients, so this recipe literally couldn’t be any simpler! The most important step is to use high quality ingredients. It’s best if you can make your own beef broth, but a store-bought broth will also work well. If you choose to use store-bought broth, just be sure to choose one that is natural, low fat, and low sodium.

If the dough isn’t coming together easily, you can add more beef broth by the teaspoonful. Take care to add no more than just enough broth to bind the flour together, because adding too much moisture to the dough will affect the texture of the finished treats.

Crunchy Beef Biscuits

Crunchy Beef Biscuits

Makes about 7 dozen (1 1/2-inch) treats

 

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2/3 cup beef broth

 

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. Stir the flour and beef broth together in a bowl. Knead by hand until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

3. 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 out into pieces.

4. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet. The pieces can be placed close together, because the dough will not spread during baking.

5. Bake for 28 minutes. Flip the treats over, return to the oven, and continue baking for an additional 28 minutes.

6. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the treats inside the oven to dry out for about 2 hours.

 

These treats should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Ham and Cheese Dog Treats

Ham and cheese is a classic culinary combination for very good reason. The gooey cheese and thin sliced ham create a satisfying textural contrast, and the two flavors work deliciously together. Most dogs find each of these ingredients mouthwatering on its own, so the double-whammy makes this recipe is virtually irresistible!

It’s best to use a reduced sodium, low fat deli ham, rather than a ham steak or other thickly sliced ham. Never use Virginia ham or other super salty ham. The cheese should be low in fat, but you can use whatever specific variety you like. I used Swiss cheese, but cheddar, mozzarella, or another mild cheese would also work well.

Ham & Cheese

Ham and Cheese Treats

Makes about 20 large treats

 

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1/4 cup chopped ham

1/4 cup finely chopped or grated reduced fat cheese

1/2 cup water

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place the flour, ham, and cheese in a bowl.

3. Add the water to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Knead until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

4. Roll the dough out into a sheet 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Use your desired cutter to cut the dough into pieces.

5. Bake until the treats are firm to the touch but not yet browned, about 12 minutes. If desired, flip the treats over halfway through the baking time.

 

These treats must be stored in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin Dog Treats

I. Love. Autumn. I love absolutely everything about the Autumn season: the cool weather, the beautiful leaves, the bountiful harvest of apples and gourds, and the comfort foods that are made with all that delicious seasonal produce. I really can’t emphasize enough how happy I am that it’s September and the first day of Fall is right around the corner. I understand that some of you (mostly students and beach bunnies) do not share my great joy at reaching September, but I’m going to go ahead and celebrate with this recipe anyway! And even if you’re already missing the sunshine of summer, I’m sure that you can still appreciate this take-off on the crowning glory of Autumn baking:  pumpkin pie!

Surprisingly, most dogs like the flavor of pumpkin as much as we humans do. (And even if your dog doesn’t go crazy for pumpkin, these treats have a touch of peanut butter to sweeten the deal.) Now, I understand that a lot of you won’t take the time to make your own pumpkin puree from scratch. Using canned pumpkin is perfectly fine, but be sure to buy “pure pumpkin puree” and NOT pumpkin pie filling. There’s actually a big difference, and you don’t want the sugar and other additives contained in canned pumpkin pie filling to go into your dog treats.

These treats are packed with flavor and are definitely tasty enough for you to enjoy right along with your dog. Plus, the wonderful aroma of these treats baking is guaranteed to put you in the mood for Fall.

Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin Dog Treats

Makes about 130 small treats

 

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 cup water

4 tablespoons natural, unsalted peanut butter

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 cups unbleached white flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, water, and peanut butter.

3. Stir the pumpkin pie spice into the flour.

4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring to combine. Use your hands to knead the mixture until a smooth, homogenous dough forms. (If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.)

5. On a generously floured countertop, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/2-inch thick. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces.

6. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet, and bake for about 9 minutes. Flip each of the treats over, return to the oven, and continue baking for 9 minutes more, until firm to the touch. Allow the treats to cool completely before serving.

 

These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, but they are best stored in the refrigerator.