Recipe: apple bacon cheddar dog (abcd) treats
While working on our annual digital year in photos, I scrolled through a lot of snaps I took of Neva when she was a wee pup. I had completely forgotten about them because I was in such a state of sleep-deprivation for a period of three or four months starting on May 23, 2015. Jeremy was in the other room, but he could tell I was looking at puppy pictures because I kept squealing and cooing at the computer. Neva was so cute, but she was so feral compared to a normal dog – because she wasn’t a normal dog. She was a puppy.
these cute little faces will suck up all of your time
Oh, but now Neva is becoming a really good girl as she settles into a routine of the familiar. She’s now used to watching dogs, cars, and people passing through our neighborhood. She doesn’t flip out when she sees birds anymore (there are so.many.birds). Her favorite places to nap depend on where the sun is hitting the house. Neva knows to ask when she wants to go outside instead of sneaking into the office to piddle next to Jeremy’s desk. I remember how it took forever and a day to walk anywhere because she had to put every damn pine cone, rock, stick, blade of grass, and flower in her mouth. We loved her little adorable puppiness, but we both knew from the start that we couldn’t wait for her to grow into a dog.
Neva always knows when I’m making HER treats in the kitchen. She’ll hang around patiently at my feet until I pop them in the oven, at which point she stares longingly at the oven. I’m not sure how much variety Neva needs in her treat selection, but I know for a fact that these treats are her number one all-time favoritest treats on the planet. I threw them together last month with a bunch of leftover ingredients and she’s been pretty devoted to them ever since. They smell fantastic while they bake because duh – the treats are made with cheddar cheese and bacon! I used applesauce as a healthy binder, along with an egg, and threw in some parsley for her breath. So I wanted to share this with anyone looking to make some extra wonderful goodies for their canine companions.
applesauce, bacon, cheddar cheese, egg, parsley, whole wheat flour
prepping the ingredients for mixing
chop the bacon and parsley fine, especially if you are making small treats
I don’t recommend cooking the bacon to the chewy stage. You need to make sure the bacon is crisp so that you can crumble it easily, which will make for easier cookie cutting of the dough. I also think the cheese helps to create a nice crunchy and layered texture to the treat, otherwise it tends to get pretty dense. When I mixed my dough in my stand mixer, it just looked like unconsolidated gravel. But if you squeeze some dough between your fingers, it should compress and stick together nicely. If your dough is too dry, just add a little water and mix until it’s cohesive.
place everything in a mixing bowl
the dough should be cohesive
roll the dough out
I’ve made so many dog treats that I’ve become an expert at 1-inch treats. We don’t tend to feed Neva large treats because she’s a lab and she’ll polish it off at once, feeling the same as if she had eaten a tiny treat. So lots of tiny treats it is! A quarter inch thickness in the dough is ideal for 1-inch diameter (ish) dog treats. If you are making larger treats, then you can roll the dough a little thicker, but not too much more. Thinner than a quarter inch has a tendency to burn in the oven as well as break in my pocket. For gifts, cookie cutters are the way to go. I made crescent moons, spruce trees, dog bones, and squares. The squares are out of necessity so you don’t lose your mind cutting out a hundred tiny shapes. Squares are quick because the process requires a knife and straight lines.
cutting out cute shapes
going into the oven
You can bake soft treats, but they will not have a long shelf life because of the moisture in the treat. If you must soft-bake, then store them in the refrigerator or freezer where they won’t spoil as quickly (but use them in a timely manner). I hard-bake all dog treats which removes a lot of the spoilage factor, and store them in the freezer until I need them. I have found the best way to make crunchy treats without burning them is to bake the dough until it is just barely soft in the center of the treat, then turn the oven off and let the treats sit in the oven until cooled. Keep in mind that the size and shape and thickness of your treats will determine the amount of baking time required.
moons, trees, and squares
the dog bones will be going out to some puppy friends for the holidays
Of course, every batch of these apple bacon cheddar dog treats must be tested for quality control. Luckily, we have a volunteer on call 24/7.
our good girl is waiting for the release word
the qc officer hard at work
Apple Bacon Cheddar Dog (ABCD) Treats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup apple sauce (no sugar added)
1/4 cup bacon (about 4 slices), cooked and crumbled
4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
water, as needed
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the whole wheat flour, apple sauce, bacon, cheese, parsley, and egg together. It will look like a crumbly mess, but if you squeeze the balls of dough together, they should stick. If the dough is too dry to stick together, add a teaspoon of water and mix again. Repeat until the dough is cohesive. Pat or knead the dough into a ball on a work surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness for small (1-inch) treats – thicker for larger treats. Cut the dough into desired shapes with cutters or knife. Arrange the treats in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the centers of the treats barely yield under the pressure of your fingertip. Make sure they don’t burn (this can happen if your oven is too hot or if your treats are too thin or have pointy corners). Turn off the heat and let the treats remain in the oven until cooled or when they are dried throughout. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to a week. If longer than a week, store in the refrigerator or freezer. Makes over 100 1-inch treats.
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