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.

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.

 

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

There is a strange fact about myself that I typically keep hidden for fear of seeming unAmerican . . . I hate fries. French fries, steak fries, curly fries, potato skins. I hate them all, and I honestly can’t figure out the source of my aversion. I love potatoes and I love fried foods, but I can not stand fried potatoes. However, of all the various French fries, my arch nemesis is the sweet potato fry. I hate the flavor, texture, and pretty much everything else about sweet potato fries. HOWEVER, I know that I’m in a very small minority. Most people (and dogs too) seem to love the flavor of sweet potatoes, and their natural sweetness makes them a perfect flavoring for a dog treat.

You can simplify the prep work for this recipe by using a canned sweet potato puree. (It could also be labeled “mashed sweet potato”). If you decide to take this route, you don’t want to buy candied sweet potatoes, any sort of syrupy concoction, or pie filling. Be sure to look for 100% sweet potatoes on the can’s label.

It’s not that much more work to bake and mash the sweet potatoes yourself. Check out my Sweet Potato Treats post for step-by-step instructions.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Makes about 40 (2-inch) treats

 

1 cup mashed sweet potato or canned sweet potato puree

1 large egg

1/4 cup water

1 cup white rice flour

1 cup oat flour

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

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

  3. In a separate bowl, combine the white rice flour and oat flour.

  4. Pour the flours into the wet ingredients, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine. Press the mixture together with your hands until it holds together in a ball of homogenous dough.

  5. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet.

  6. Place the piece of parchment paper on the countertop, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/2 inch thick on top of the piece of parchment.

  7. Carefully transfer the parchment paper (with the sheet of dough on top) to your baking sheet.

  8. Bake for 12 minutes.

  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.

  10. Immediately (before the treats cool), use a fluted pastry cutter or a pizza cutter to make parallel cuts about 3/4 inch apart all the way across the sheet of dough. Next, working perpendicular to the cuts that you just made, make parallel cuts about 2 inches apart across the sheet of dough. These cuts should now form rectangular pieces measuring 3/4 inch by 2 inches that mimic the shape of French fries.

  11. Gently separate the pieces so that there is about 1/4 inch of space between them on the baking sheet and flip each of the treats over.

  12. Return the baking sheet to the oven for 6 to 7 minutes. The finished treats should be lightly brown and firm to the touch.

 

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

Embossed Dog Cookies

I typically try to avoid posting any recipes that require special equipment. HOWEVER, I got an awesome embossing rolling pin this week, and the dog treats that I made using it were so pretty that I just couldn’t resist sharing the recipe with you.

You can find embossing rolling pins at specialty kitchen stores, like Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma, or online at Amazon.com or baking supply sites. But, believe it or not, an excellent place to look for embossing rolling pins is at yard sales. Yard sales (and rummage sales, flea markets, etc) often have beautiful antique rolling pins hiding amongst bins of used kitchen stuff for DIRT CHEAP. You can find some real treasures this way–as long as you don’t mind having to hunt around.

My new "dog paw" rolling pin from Humble Elephant.

My new “paw print” rolling pin from Humble Elephant.

This time I ordered my embossing rolling pin from a shop on Etsy called Humble Elephant. They offer lots of really fun, laser cut rolling pins, and they’ll even create custom designs for you. Be sure to check out Humble Elephant’s shop at www.etsy.com/shop/HumbleElephant.

Embossed cookies are deceptively impressive, because the technique actually requires very little work or skill to get a dazzling result. Once you have rolled your dough out into a thin sheet using a standard rolling pin, you simply roll the embossing rolling pin over the dough to transfer the design. You should only roll the embossing rolling pin over the dough once, because rolling back over the dough may blur or distort the design. To ensure that the design comes out perfectly on your first roll just be sure to press down very firmly with even pressure as you roll the pin.

The real key to beautifully embossed cookies is using the right dough. It’s essential that the dough be soft and not stretchy. (For human cookies, shortbread or sugar cookies work well.) When testing this recipe, it took me a couple of tries to figure out the blend of flours that would allow the embossed design to look the best on the baked dog treats. I ended up with a blend of white rice flour and oat flour. This gluten-free dough is on the delicate side, but it is still easy to work with. It rolls out nicely and cuts out easily, but you may want to use an offset spatula to help you move the cut-outs of dough to the baking sheet without distorting the shape or the embossed design.

Embossed Dog Cookies

Embossed Dog Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen (2 ½ inch) cookies

 

3/4 cup white rice flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 cups oat flour

3/4 cup broth (beef, chicken, fish, vegetable, your choice) or water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flours in a bowl.

3. Add the broth or water, and stir to combine well. Press the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth, homogenous dough.

4. On a countertop dusted well with white rice flour, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/2 inch thick using a standard rolling pin. Next, roll your embossing rolling pin over the dough once. Be sure to press as firmly as possible to ensure that the design shows up clearly on the dough.

5. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (This dough is fairly soft, so you may want to use an offset metal spatula to help transfer the cookies to the baking sheet.)

6. Bake for 13 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flip each of the cookies over, and then return them to the oven for an additional 6 to 7 minutes. The cookies should be firmly set and lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.

 

These treats should be stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.

 

 

Grain Free Coconut Macaroons

Coconut flour behaves differently than any other grain-free flour, so baking with it can be somewhat daunting. Despite the unique challenges that it presents to baking, coconut flour makes an excellent addition to your pet’s diet. It contains a significant amount of fiber, protein, and lauric acid, a healthy fat that is great for the immune system as well as skin and coat health.

Coconut flour is actually a powder made by grinding defatted, dehydrated coconut meat. Since coconut is ultra absorbent, recipes using coconut flour require at least an equal amount of liquid. Due to this unusual texture and absorbency, coconut flour is typically not used for more than 20% of the total weight of flour in a recipe. However, the following recipe calls for 100% coconut flour. Even though this recipe contains plenty of water and an egg to help bind it, the dough has a loose, sandy texture and must be pressed firmly together in order to be able to scoop it into cookies. In spite of that, the baked cookies hold together quite well. And the super soft texture makes them ideal for older dogs or any dog with dental issues.

I got the #30 cookie scoop that I used to make this recipe at Sur La Table.

I got the #30 cookie scoop that I used to make this recipe at Sur La Table.

This recipe is best prepared with a cookie scoop, also known as a disher or spring-loaded ice cream scoop. These spring-loaded, stainless steel scoops can be found in a wide range of sizes at most kitchen stores. (I bought mine at Sur La Table. http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-698407/Stainless-Steel+Ice+Cream+Scoop) These scoops are numbered according to their size using an industry-wide system; a #100 is the smallest at 3/4 tablespoon or 3/8 fl oz, while a #4 is the largest (that I’ve seen) at 1 cup or 8 fl oz. To make these macaroons, I used a #30 scoop that holds about 2 1/2 tablespoons or 1.25 fl oz and has a diameter of about 2 inches. You can use any small-ish size scoop that you’d like to make this recipe, but the spring action is really necessary to get the soft dough to come out cleanly in the nice, round scoops that make these dog treats look like the people-food macaroons that we all know and love.

 Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Makes about 3 dozen (2-inch) dog treats

 

1 3/4 cups coconut flour

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup honey

1 egg

2 1/2 cups water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour and shredded coconut in a bowl.

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

4. Use your hands or the back of your spoon to press the dough down and pack it tightly into the bowl. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a non-stick baking sheet. Pack the dough down into the bowl as often as needed to be able to continue scooping it easily.

5. Bake until dry and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

6. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and allow the treats to cool inside the oven for about 1 hour.

 

These treats should be 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.

Summer Berry Bars

Right now we have an abundance of fresh, local strawberries here in Gettysburg, so for the past several weeks I have been thoroughly enjoying multiple batches of strawberry shortcake. Today I very generously decided to share some of the strawberries leftover from my shortcake-a-palooza with my dog Pacey, and the result was this recipe for berry bar cookies. If you don’t have fresh strawberries, you can substitute an equal amount of blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries, or use a combination of berries.

The preparation is simple, and the treats can easily be made from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. I cut the baked treats into 1-inch by 1-inch squares to suit my little dog, but you can cut the treats into pieces of any size and/or shape using a paring knife or a small cookie cutter. To keep the finished treats from crumbling too much, it’s best to cut them into pieces immediately after removing them from the oven. Just be sure to use an oven mitt or pot-holder and be extremely careful during this step, because the pan and the treats will be very hot.

Summer Berry Bars

Summer Berry Bars

Makes about 30 (1-inch by 1-inch) bars

 

1 1/2 cups whole ripe strawberries, stems and leaves removed

1/4 cup water

1 egg

2 cups oat flour

1 cup white rice flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Place the strawberries and water in a bowl. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash the berries into very small pieces (a.k.a. mush).

3. Stir the egg into the mashed berries.

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

5. Slowly stir the flours into the wet ingredients, and continue stirring until well-combined. (The finished dough will be slightly wet but should hold together well and press easily into the pan.)

6. Press the dough into an 8-inch by 8-inch pan lined with parchment paper, making sure that the sheet of dough is of an even thickness.

7. Bake until firm to the touch and baked through, 18 to 20 minutes.

8. Remove the pan from the oven, and use a sharp paring knife to cut the bars into pieces.

9. Allow the bars to cool completely before removing them from the pan and serving.

 

These treats should be stored in an airtight container in 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.

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.

Cat Treats

I feel like recently I have been inundated with people asking me if I will make CAT treats. I shouldn’t really be surprised that “crazy cat people” want to pamper their pets as much as we “crazy dog people” but, being a true crazy dog person, I guess I hadn’t really thought much about cat treats before. So, by popular demand, here is my first cat treat recipe.

These treats only have three ingredients but are packed with fishy flavor. Since this is my first attempt I wanted to stick to a flavor that is fairly universally loved by cats, but I don’t relish the messiness of working with raw seafood, so I decided to use freeze-dried ocean whitefish. I really like PureBites brand, and I have found it to be readily available in my local pet stores. Whatever brand you choose to use, just be sure that the only ingredient listed on the package is fish. You could also easily substitute an equal amount of a different freeze-dried seafood or meat (like shrimp, chicken, or turkey) in this recipe without a problem.

The kitty taste-testers that I sent my treats to may disagree, but I suspect that the cookie cutter that I used was a little too large for cat-sized mouths. It is about 1 inch long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. You will probably want to use a smaller sized cutter, but remember that that will increase the yield that is listed below.

 Cat Treats

Cat Treats

Makes about 100 (1-inch) treats

 

About 1/2 oz freeze-dried whitefish, or as needed

3 cups brown rice flour

1 1/2 cups water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the freeze-dried whitefish in a blender or food processor, and process it into a fine powder. Transfer 1/2 cup of the powder in a mixing bowl. Store the remainder of the powder in an airtight container for later use.

3. Add the rice flour to the whitefish powder, and stir to combine.

4. Add the water to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine, and then continue kneading the mixture by hand until it forms a smooth dough.

5. Lightly dust the countertop with rice flour, and 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 a baking sheet.

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

 

Note:

I used two small (0.28 oz) bags of PureBites Ocean Whitefish Cat Treats in order to grind the necessary 1/2 cup of powder.