Here’s what happens when you put a plate full of cookies in front of a neurotic dog and tell him to smile for the camera.
I confess. I had a hilariously good time torturing poor Barkley. He is so eager to please and so ready to assume guilt. But I gave him a half dozen treats for putting up with my antics and as payment for being showbiz material. Plus, he got turkey for Thanksgiving, so he’s not complaining.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I didn’t think to take pictures of the final product – so I needed to make another batch to post it on the blog. It gave me an opportunity to perfect the recipe. The first batch was a little crumbly.
Modifications in the Second Batch & a Few Tips:
Here is the trick: in working with rice flour (as opposed to wheat), adding a little xanthan gum does wonders for holding the mixture together. Also, I added fewer eggs and strained the pumpkin a little better to reduce the liquid, which meant a little less rice flour and a higher proportion of turkey to the overall mix. I kept the dough a bit on the sticky side and let it sit overnight to give the flour a chance to swell with the liquid, which I think really helped with the overall consistency. I still needed to sprinkle a little rice flour on the counter and the top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. I baked the cookies at a little lower temperature for a bit longer time – and they were so hard, I didn’t bother drying them out further in the dehydrator.
I admit, the lean ground turkey breast is a bit more expensive than buying the whole bird, but sometimes the convenience is worth it. That said, I don’t see why you couldn’t grind up leftover turkey (or chop fine) and add it to a cookie dough for your fur-faced friends. Great way to use leftovers; great handmade gift for the holidays, too.
Pumpkins, by the way, are an excellent food for dogs. We used to have a roly-poly yellow lab who just loved the stuff. We’d reduce her regular chow and add cooked pumpkin – it made her feel full, added extra nutrition, and she lost weight in the process.
As with all my recipes, there are no firm measurements – simply adjust according to what you have. Some pumpkin is runnier than others, for example. Maybe you have a little more turkey. Maybe even a little cooked rice instead of all rice flour. It really depends on whether you want to roll it out and cut with cookie cutters (cat shapes are fun, although the humor is somewhat lost on the canine), or whether you’d just as soon go with drop biscuits. Dogs just love it when you get creative in making them treats, and they really don’t care how it looks. Basically, you can just adapt your favorite cookie recipe, adding in the eggshells, which is a very cheap source of calcium, and turkey. Leave out sugar, salt, and wheat. Also remember that onions, garlic, and raisins are toxic to dogs.
Without further ado, here is my loose recipe:
Recipe for Thanksgiving Dog Biscuits
Ground turkey (I used extra lean ground turkey breast that was half price, but still pretty fancy stuff as far as my dog was concerned). You could use lean hamburger or liver or other meat. I used a little over a pound.
Pumpkin puree (I used about 2 cups in a rather large batch)
Eggs – including egg shells (eggs are such a cheap source of protein, so I used 4, figuring 1 for each ½ cup of pumpkin – but you could use fewer).
Oil – olive, canola – or maybe bacon drippings? (I used olive – maybe 1/2 cup)
Blackstrap Molasses – just a little. Adds minerals & flavoring. A couple tablespoons or so up to ¼ c in a large batch. Not too much, though – molasses can be a laxative.
Nutritional yeast – doesn’t take much. I added 4 T (or ¼ c). It’s a powerhouse food, gives the dog a shiny coat, and reduces fleas.
Xanthan gum: I added about 2 T to the whole big batch, so if you’re making a smaller batch, you could use far less. It’s a bit spendy (get it at the health food store), but a little goes a long way. 1 tsp/cup of flour is plenty—maybe even less.
Rice flour – freshly ground – however much you need to make it pack together. I just ground some rice in the blender for about a minute. My first batch took 8 cups; the second batch only needed 6.
Other Ideas for Additions (I did not add these, but they’d be worth experimenting with):
Oatmeal and/or oat flour
Cooked carrots, green beans, or other veggies (but remember, no onions or garlic)
Procedure: Throw your eggs in the blender, including the shells, buzz till fine. Add olive or other oil a little at a time to get it to mix together. Add the pumpkin and molasses, liquefy, and if the blender is strong enough, the meat – otherwise, just add the liquids to the meat and mix by hand as you would a meatloaf.
Mix your dry ingredients – but start with half the amount of flour, add the yeast and xanthan gum, mix thoroughly, and add to the wet ingredients. Add remaining flour as needed to get it to stick together in a ball. The dough should remain a little on the sticky side. Rest while you let the dough “rest” (stirring a big batch can be a good workout).
Roll out to about ½” thick or more, cut with cutters, bake at 325 for about 15-20 minutes, turn over, and bake a little more. If necessary, dehydrate to get extra hard or cook a little longer at reduced temps.
Yes, I tried them. I thought they were great. I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for awhile and I’d say they were better than your average gluten-free cracker – much better, in fact. The turkey is not a strong flavor. The pumpkin adds a certain sweetness, complemented by the molasses. Personally, I would add a little salt if they were for me. Barkley, though, thought they were just fine the way they were. He was even willing to do stupid tricks to get more. Even after all I’d put him through. What a good dog.
P.S. If you’d like some & if the inventory says “sorry out of stock,” just contact me – I might be talked into whipping up another batch. Any payment above the normal price I will donate to our local Humane Society or W.A.G. (Welfare for Animals Guild). Thanks! And Barkley & his former inmates thank you, too!