Especially if it's made for the dogs! And shaped into cute little doggie bones!
After turning green with envy as my little sister (who recently got engaged - Congrats, L! ...now wait a sec, does this make me an "Old Maid?!") described a cookbook she had recently acquired called the "Three Dog Bakery Cookbook," I was more than thrilled when I opened a package from my hometown (thanks be to you too, mom) to find my own copy of this little volume, filled with the wherewithall to make my own canine treats, tucked neatly inside.
The Three Dog Bakery makes baked dog treats and sells them in stores around the US. They are "'paw'-sionate" advocates of dog food and treats with no weird preservatives, salt, sugar, chemicals, animal fat, or other not-good-for-your-pup stuff, and most of the recipes are made with ingredients that the majority of us have in our cupboards and would eat ourselves. It's a company run by Dan Dye and Mark Beckoff and was started with the first store in 1989...apparently, they've been going strong ever since and have now opened several stores in several states.
I quickly scoured the book for easy recipes to start, and there are recipes for everything from bones to cookies to seasonal favorites and even doggie birthday cakes (hey, why shouldn't we celebrate theirs too?). Although I have never had any intentions of baking a doggie birthday cake, perhaps now that I have the resources, I'll feel motivated to do so. But with my luck, the pup would eat it all in one sitting and I'll have to get up and let him out a hundred times that night! We'll have to see about that one.
So I raided the cupboards to see what we had on hand, and then I found the perfect recipe: Hanukkah Noshers. No, it's obviously not Hanukkah, but who cares?!
Hanukkah Noshers, from the Three Dog Bakery Cookbook
Makes ~30 treats, depending on the size of your cookie cutters
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups water
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
Preheat your oven to 350F. Combine the applesauce, egg, peanut butter, vanilla and water in a large bowl. In a second bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, oats and peanuts. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until it comes together, then turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until combined. Roll dough to 1/4" thick, then cut out shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet (I think mine are non-stick, so I didn't grease it), and bake for 45 minutes. Cool on a rack, and once cool, store in an airtight container.
Note: There's no need to let these cool in the oven like many other dog treats to make them crispier...these are pretty crispy on their own. Watch them towards the end of cooking to make sure you don't burn them...
(If you're wondering about the parsley in the picture, if dogs can have birthday cakes, why not garnishes?!)
The recipe doesn't contain anything strange...everything in the ingredient list is recognizable...and there aren't even any completely strange combinations that I might avoid myself...
...so I decided that I had to try them.
I'm a scientist, right? That scientific curiosity is ingrained in my genes, causing the need to experiment. Plus, I figured that if it's good enough for the pooches, it's good enough for me! (Don't let that make you think that I would eat their other food though...because there's NO WAY anything like that that I didn't make is going in my mouth! If you want to read about someone crazy like that and get a really good laugh, check out this guy: Steve ). I grabbed one up, took a tiny bite off the corner of one of the bones, and chewed...slowly.
The verdict: I don't recommend them. They don't taste bad, but boy are they bland. I had to drink an entire glass of water to rid my mouth of the taste. I won't be eating dog treats anymore. But the dogs love them. They run around beating eachother off to see who can be the best behaved in order to get fed first.
I also decided that these would make excellent gifts for our other canine-loving friends. I was planning to put them in colorful cellophane bags with cute little ribbons tied around the tops, and distribute them among the dog-owners I knew. But I burned the second batch. Oops. So, instead of being chivalrous, I kept them all for myself. Er, my dogs, I mean. But I shall definitely make doggie gifts for friends one of these days. Until then, my dogs seem pretty happy with them.