Quick and Easy Dog Treats

It’s been a little over two years ago that Matthew and I took the plunge and became puppy parents. Looking back, we had absolutely NO idea what we were getting ourselves into. We imagined relaxing snuggles on the sofa, off-leash playing in the park, and a mild tempered dog. We quickly realized that our reality as puppy parents would be something completely different.

I’ll never forget the day that Maya peed on my lap, while I was sitting on the sofa. The puppy months were rough for everyone in our household. There were the 3am potty breaks, that Maya seemed to assume were playtime. There were the accidents in the house, which usually occurred right after a long walk around the block. There was the destruction of the laminate tile in our kitchen. There was puppy training class number one… and number two. The list could go on for quite a while.

Fast forward to two years later and the landscape of dog ownership has changed drastically for both of us. I remember reading that dog training is more about training humans than the dog. I couldn’t agree with this statement more. Matthew and I have been fully trained and as a result, Maya is doing quite well. I now get those relaxing snuggles on the sofa and Matthew gets his off-leash playtime in the park. As for a mild-tempered dog? Well you can’t get everything you wish for, right?!

Baking doggie treats is literally the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. I like this recipe because it only takes three ingredients and you can customize it however you’d like. This recipe is perfect for your own doggie, or as a gift for a dog lover in your life. I got the dog shaped cookie cutters at a fun boutique store with my parents when they were in town last fall. I even found some cute ones on Amazon when I was perusing for baking items.


Quick and Easy Dog Treats
Makes approximately 48 small sized treats 

Ingredients
2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 four ounce jars of baby food
1/2 cup chopped meat

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the middle of your oven.

Combine flour, baby food, and chopped meat together in a bowl and mix until the dough becomes stiff. You may need a little extra flour or water depending on the consistency of your dough—this recipe isn’t an exact science.

On a rolling mat or floured surface, roll out your dough until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Use your cookie cutters to cut into your desired doggie treat shape. As an alternative, you can also use a sharp knife to cut the dough into squares.

Line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and place treats 1/2 inch apart. Bake the treats for approximately 20 minutes or until you see the edges begin to brown slightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from cookie sheet. Once completely cooled, you should store your treats in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
When adding food to your dog treats, remember that there are some foods which are off limits to our furry friends as they are toxic. Be sure to keep onions, grapes, raisins, and of course chocolate far from your doggie treats!

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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I’m turning 32 today. Thirty-two. Am I feeling like 32? Probably… yes, I do. For instance, I now embrace a 10:30 bedtime which allows me to get plenty of sleep and renders me fully functional when I wake-up in the morning. I also adore my memory foam pillow, which has become a necessary requirement for a good night’s sleep.

I often write a blog post when it’s my birthday. On this particular one, I find myself on vacation in Washington DC visiting my friend Kristelle. It’s been almost three years (four years for Matthew) since we moved away from DC and this is our first time back visiting. It is pretty difficult to put into words the various things that make me absolutely love DC. It’s a diverse city where people come from various backgrounds, making the District vibrant, dynamic, and ever changing. Each neighborhood has a distinct feel and I miss the ability to walk or use public transportation to get everywhere. In one day of vacation alone, I walked 10 miles in the city. 

If you’ve followed Sweet Precision for a while you might remember my Strawberry Birthday Cake tradition. This year I decided to switch things up a little bit and made birthday cupcakes instead! Let’s talk a little bit about these cupcakes. Are you one of those people who feel like buttercream is too rich and heavy? If so, you’ll love the Swiss-style meringue buttercream that I used for this recipe which is light and delicate. Swiss meringue is prepared by cooking egg whites and sugar together in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. The mixture is then removed from the heat and whipped at high speed until it forms stiff peaks and has cooled. After this, room-temperature butter is slowly added into the mixture. Meringue-based buttercreams are light and creamy in texture, which I love. They also don’t ‘crust-over’ as with simple buttercream.

STRAWBERRY

Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes approximately 24 cupcakes 

Cupcake Ingredients
1 box white cake mix
1 (6 oz) box strawberry jello
4 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup oil
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup water

Frosting Ingredients
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
red food coloring, optional

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix wet ingredients together, including strawberries. Slowly stir wet ingredients in with the dry being careful not to over mix the batter. Pour batter into cupcake tins and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan and then remove to a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Working with meringue buttercream frosting can be tricky. If your frosting is “broken” the fat and liquid won’t emulsify, and you’ll be left with a bowl of fat globules that look like cottage cheese. If this happens to you, first try mixing the frosting a little longer to see if it comes together on its own. If it doesn’t come together with additional mixing, scoop out a cup of curdled mixture and microwave 5 to 10 seconds, until melted but not hot. Pour the melted buttercream into the mixer while on medium speed and whip until combined. This works every time!

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