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.

Cheddar Crackers

If your dogs are anything like mine, they just can’t get enough cheesy treats. Unlike a lot of cheese-flavored dog treat recipes, these crispy little biscuits are made using freeze dried cheddar cheese. Freeze drying is a process that naturally preserves food without the need to add any artificial preservatives, and recently freeze-dried foods have become somewhat trendy. There are now lots of brands of freeze dried cheese out there, so you can experiment to find the one that you (and your dog) like best. I choose to use PureBites brand “Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese Dog Treats,” because it is produced specifically for dogs, made in the USA, and readily available at my neighborhood pet shop.

You will need to grind the freeze dried cheese pieces before making this recipe. To do this you simply place the cheese in a food processor or blender and process until it is the consistency of a fine powder. To yield the necessary 1/2 cup of powder, I used less than 1 ounce of freeze-dried cheese.

 

Cheese Crackers

Cheddar Crackers

Makes about 60 (1-inch square) treats

 

1 cup unbleached flour, plus as needed for dusting

1/2 cup finely ground freeze-dried cheddar cheese

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour and cheese in a bowl.

3. Add the water, and stir until the mixture forms a homogenous dough.

4. Generously dust the countertop with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into your desired shape using a cookie cutter, paring knife, or rotary cutter. (I used a rotary cutter to cut the dough into 1-inch by 1-inch squares.)

5. Arrange the pieces on an ungreased baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until crisp, about 16 minutes. If desired, flip the treats over halfway through the baking time to help ensure even browning.

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.

Frozen Peanut Butter Treats

As the dog days of summer start heating up, it’s important to remember that your pooch is probably feeling just as hot and uncomfortable as you are! As always, you want to be sure to keep your dog’s bowl filled with clean, cool water, but from time to time it’s also nice to pamper him/her with a frosty treat. This quick and easy recipe for frozen peanut-flavored treats is a great way to help cool your hot dog down at the beach, by the pool, or after a good romp in the backyard.

Most dogs will really appreciate the novelty of a frozen treat, but as the treat starts to melt it can get pretty messy. A lot of dogs will want to play with the slippery treat like a toy—flinging, pushing, and chasing it all over the place before actually eating it. Therefore, it is best to serve these treats outdoors (or on an indoor surface that you don’t mind having to clean up).

Frozen Peanut Butter Treats

Frozen Peanut Butter Treats

Makes about 10 small treats

 

1/4 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)

1/4 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce

Carob chips, as desired

 

1. Use a rubber spatula to stir the peanut butter together with the applesauce until the ingredients are well combined into a smooth, homogenous mixture.

 

2. Pour the mixture into the cavities of an ice cube tray or mini muffin tin.

 

3. Gently press 2 or 3 carob chips into the top of each treat.

 

4. Place in the freezer until firm, at least 2 hours.

Apple Crisps

There isn’t a more natural snack for your dog than these oven-dried apple crisps. You can use any type of apple that you have handy, although I think Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady apples work best. You can choose to leave the apples plain (as I did in this batch) or sprinkle a little ground cinnamon on the sliced apples before baking them. Especially with a touch of cinnamon, these make a fantastic snack for you to share with your doggie, too.

Please do not be intimidated by the extremely long cooking time of this recipe. You can literally just pop the sliced apples into the oven and forget about them for about 7 hours. The oven temperature is so low (170°F) that you can really go about your day without worry. Just be sure to set a timer so that you don’t completely forget about them!!

Apple Crisps

Apple Crisps

1. Preheat the oven to 170°F, or as low as your oven will allow.

2. Carefully peel and core the apple. Using a mandoline or a sharp slicing knife, cut the apple into slices as thin as possible (1/8-inch or thinner).

3. Arrange the apple slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The slices can be placed very close together but should not overlap.

4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the apple slices are dry and crisp, about 7 hours.

5. Allow the apple crisps to cool completely before removing from the parchment paper and serving.

These treats should be stored in an airtight container.