homemade dog treats

Wish I could say I’ve been otherwise occupied in the kitchen since my last Simmer post, nearly 1 month ago.  But instead of hauling around my measuring spoons, I’ve spent the last month hauling around a plethora of boring paperwork.  In a manic effort to check items off my to-do list, I filed my 2011 tax returns yesterday only to turn around and file an amendment today.  Whoops is the operative word here.  Bureaucracy.  How sweet it is.

Tax dilemmas aside, I also bit the bullet recently, filling out a very long application and writing a very large check, all in the interest of finally becoming a US Citizen.  You’ll be relieved to know I passed my civics and English test this week, and will be officially sworn in April 12.  This means many things for me, not least that I’ll be able to vote (!!!) for the first time in the upcoming November elections.

Those few hours not spent working or climbing the mountain of tax & citizenship paper strewn across my dining room table, have been spent recently reading up on the fascinating and disturbing world of pet food ingredients and politics.  Clearly, after a long day at the office, this is just the type of bedtime reading to lull yourself to dreamland. 

I’ve contemplated making my own dog food for years now, but always abandoned the idea after being terrified and confused by the scads of conflicting information and advice on this subject.  Recently though, my confidence has been buoyed, thanks largely to Marion Nestle’s Feed Your Pet Right.  A complicated subject indeed, I’m curious how many of you out there, those who regularly cook from scratch for yourselves and your families, also cook from scratch for your pets?

Today’s recipe is my first foray into the world of home-cooked dog food.  Treats, I figured, are the easiest place to start – no need to count calories, supplement vitamins, or ration out Omega 3s.  I wanted something with wholesome ingredients, easy to prepare in bulk, and above all without the suspect ingredients or “natural” flavors that seem to be present in all commercially prepared treats these days. 

And the results?  Mom and doggie approved! 


Side Note:  March 1st marks my two year aniversay on Simmer.  Which means, we’ve crossed into year 3!

One Year Ago: Lemon Sponge Cups; Sweet Potato and Spinach Tart with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese.

Two Years Ago: Raspberry Ricotta Pancakes; Apples Streusel with a Shortbread Crust.

Homemade Dog Treats

Makes about 100 small dog treats. 

  • 4 oz chicken livers
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup coarsely grated carrot, peel on (about 2 small-medium carrots)
  • ½ cup coarsely grated apple, peel on (about one apple)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp vegetable shortening (or substitute with lard or leftover bacon fat)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 – 4 tbsp cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper.  Combine the chicken livers, flour, oats, carrot, apple, peanut butter, and shortening in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbly.  Add the egg and 2 tbsp water and pulse until the dough comes together.  Pinch a small piece of dough together with your fingers to see if it holds – if it still seems too dry or crumbly, add another 2 tbsp water and pulse again. 

Dump the dough out on the counter and form into two balls.  Working on a well floured surface, roll each ball out to approximately ¼ inch thickness.  At this point, you can either use a sharp knife to cut the dough into rectangles, or cut out any shape you like using a cookie cutter. 

Arrange the cut treats on the prepared baking sheets – they won’t spread much, so can be placed fairly close together.  Bake in batches, 15 minutes total, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.  Once cooled, pack the treats in an air tight container and refrigerate up to 1 week.  Treats can also be frozen up to 2 months – thaw before serving!  (I froze most, and kept only what I need for the week in the refrigerator.)

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