Gluten-Free Dog Treats

In honour of Ruby’s first birthday, Cait and I got together and concocted some fabulous dog biscuits for her and Gren.  Being a corgi and therefore very food-obsessed and prone to obesity, Gren only took home a few to try, but they were still enjoyed by all.  I even had one, as I won’t feed my dog anything I wouldn’t eat myself.

Ruby murders Gren

Fortunately, we were able to easily find a dog treat recipe online that conformed to our philosophy of feeding our dogs biologically appropriate food.  That means most definitely no corn, no wheat, and no soy, and none of those other things that people seem to think dogs need, like salt, sugar, and artificial flavours or colours.  This recipe from Sandra over at dog-nutrition-naturally.com totally fit the bill and was easy to do.  We tripled the recipe so that there would be plenty of birthday treats for everyone.

First, peel yourself a large sweet potato.  And I mean LARGE.  Cut that sucker up.

Plop the potato pieces in a pot and boil them silly until they’re mashable.  Then of course mash them.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

In a large bowl, plop in 1lb ground meat.  We used extra lean ground beef, but you can use turkey, chicken, pork, or lamb — or really, whatever you want.

Add to that 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) and a large egg.  Drop in 5 tablespoons large flake rolled oats as well, just for cohesion purposes.

Chuck in the mashed sweet potato and mix it well.

Spread it flat on the prepared cookie sheet and smooth the top.

Bake for about an hour.  The cookie will shrink and pull away from the sides.  Now you can score the cookie into smaller pieces, or use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes.  A pizza cutter is handy about now too.

Reduce the oven heat to 250°F and pop the cookies back into the oven for another hour or so to dry out.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Tada!  That’s it.  Now SIT.

Good dog.Make sure to store your treats in an airtight container, and of course remember that treats should never be used as a substitute for your dog’s regular diet.  Yum yum!

Dolmades

I’m not sure when exactly my mother and I started making these Greek/Lebanese lamb-stuffed grape leaves, but dolmades (dolma is the singular) have been a staple of ours for potlucks and gatherings for ages and ages.  Feel free to experiment with yours.

First you need a jar of pickled grape leaves.  I’m sure there are different kinds of leaves that are good for different things, but we usually pick the jar that has the largest leaves with the greenest colour.  You need to drain and rinse these suckers a couple of times to get the brine off.You also want to cook up some rice.

Two cups cooked rice should be sufficient.

You can always freeze whatever you don’t use in a freezer bag for chucking into soups later on.

Defrost about 2lbs ground lamb.

A large onion.  You want to practically mince that sucker.

Parsley.  Lots of it.  Chopped up, probably about a cup.

Ditto thyme, though less so, probably a few tablespoons.

Don’t forget what I told you about freezing herbs.

You probably also want to add some dill, but we didn’t have any.

A handful of pine nuts.

Mix all those ingredients up in a bowl.  Use your hands, don’t be afraid.

Now take a grape leaf and lay it flat on a plate, vein side up. 

Take a tablespoon or so of your lamb filling and plop it on the leaf, near where the stem should be.

Tuck in the sides of the leaf.

Roll the rest of it up like a cigar.

Here is your completed dolma.  Now do that another 40-50 times until you run out of lamb.

Now, take the small and broken grape leaves and line the bottom of a large pot with them.  Place your rolled dolmades on top, close together, double-stacked, until you run out.

Drizzle your completed dolmades with a bit of olive oil.  Layer more grape leaves on top.

Fill the pot to the edge of the dolmades with chicken broth and bring to a boil before lowering the heat and simmering for about 45 minutes.

Serve them hot, serve them cold.  I prefer them nice and warm, as I think they have more taste that way.  They’re really good with yogurt.

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