Puppy season kicked off last month, with posts on social media and a flood of photographs and videos filling up my feed. My friends and their friends, and, it seems like everyone elseâ€™s friends, are adopting puppies and dogs of all ages. At the farmers market, the cute-o-meter is off the charts with wiggling fur bundles causing human traffic jams.
It makes sense. There is more time to manage a new member of the household in the summer, when the days are long enough for training sessions and snow doesnâ€™t intrude on walkies.
When Iâ€™m invited to meet a newly ensconced pup, I arrive with a package of DIY dog biscuits. I first made them for our dog Dylan, who struggled with food allergies and a touchy tummy but never said no to such a biscuit. I make them with healthful grocery store ingredients, and, while I certainly could eat them, they donâ€™t taste delicious to me. To dogs, however, they are scrumptious.
There are a few particulars about the ingredients I use: sugar-free peanut butter, because sugar is bad for dogs; only safflower oil, because it is easy for dogs to digest; and no pre-grated cheese, because the bagged kind is often coated with cornstarch or another additive that is not ideal for canine digestion. Because the biscuits contain no preservatives, they can get moldy in a few days, so I keep them refrigerated.
The accompanying recipes yield lots of biscuits, especially when you are baking treats sized for the little guys. You can freeze the treats in zip-top bags and take out a dozen at a time, or portion the dough into quarters and freeze each section separately. Roll, cut and bake as needed.
I have found that most dogs are not so picky about their biscuits. Morty, our mini schnauzer, has decided he is not that into my cheesy biscuits, yet he scarfs down the peanut butter ones. Our mixed terrier Louie happily runs off with â€” and guards for hours â€” any biscuit offered. Some dogs might be wary of a new treat, but donâ€™t give up hope. Eventually, theyâ€™ll find the biscuits irresistible.
You can produce these biscuits quickly, blending the few ingredients by hand or in a stand mixer. The dough is flexible and easy to handle. When it seems too wet, add more flour. You can reroll scraps. Pastry standards for our four-legged friends are forgiving.
I like to use bone-shaped cookie cutters and have them in big- and little-dog sizes. Of course, any cookie cutter will work; sometimes I skip that step and simply use a ruler and knife to measure and cut two-inch squares.
Once the biscuits are done, turn off the oven and let them dry out on their baking sheets as the oven cools. I often let them sit out on the counter overnight, to crisp up even more. A crunchy biscuit is a good biscuit.
Every new puppy owner will face trying moments â€” a favorite pair of shoes devoured, trash cans upended, howling at sirens. Bring a bottle of wine and your bag of treats to ease the transition. While you are visiting, teach the dog a trick; I opt for the High Five. Then, give that dog a bone.
36 servings (makes three dozen 4-inch biscuits or fifty 1-inch bone-shaped biscuits)
NOTES: Sugar-free peanut butter is a must here, as sugar is not good for our four-legged friends.Â You can use a stand mixer for this instead of stirring by hand. Youâ€™ll need cookie cutters (see servings note).Â Let the biscuits sit out overnight to get very crispy.
MAKE AHEAD: The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
1 Â½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 Â¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Â¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Â¼ cup cornmeal
Â¾ cup water
Â¼ cup safflower oil
1 large egg
2 tablespoons no-sugar peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
â€” Nutrition per piece: 60 calories, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar
24 servings (makes two dozen 4-inch biscuits or fifty 1-inch oval biscuits)
NOTES: Dogsâ€™ digestive systems are different from humans; of all the oils we consume, safflower oil is the easiest for dogs to digest.Â Do not use pre-grated cheese here. Instead, grate it on a box grater before using it. In testing, the author uses Better Than Bouillon chicken base. Youâ€™ll need cookie cutters (see the servings note).
MAKE AHEAD: Keep the biscuits in the refrigerator or freezer for longer shelf life. At room temperature, they will last only about 3 days.
3 cups whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup grated or shredded cheddar cheese
1 Â½ cups water
1/3 cup safflower oil
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon base (see headnote)
1 large egg
â€” Nutrition per piece: 110 calories, 3 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 55 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar
â€” Recipes from columnist and cookbook author Cathy Barrow