Friday Recipe Exchange: Pet Treats

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product.

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product. Photo by JeffreyW

While I was debating between two topic requests for this week’s recipe exchange, a commenter at Balloon-Juice sparked a whole new idea. Pet Treats. So I asked for some ideas and those became tonight’s post. Thanks to ButchF, MattR, WereBear and JeffreyW for the ideas.

First from JefferyW – Cheddar Cheese Biscuits  (recipe here)

And MattR gave us the recipe he uses for Peanut Butter Treats (recipe here)

Then I decided cat lovers needed equal time, so I contacted WereBear of Way of Cats, and asked for her advice on cat treats. Here’s what she told me:

Aw, so sweet of you to think of me and the kitties. Now that’s parity!

However, while dogs are gourmands, cats are fussy gourmets. So I can’t guarantee happy consumption. In fact, [here is] Why Cats Are Fussy  (read here) …. because not all cats are going to like all things.

That said, here is my recipe for Chicken Liver Pate for Kitties:

  • 1 cup chicken livers
  • 2 tbsp butter or bacon fat
  • sprinkle of catnip (or parsley, sage, or basil, if cat likes the smell)

Classically, pate includes onions, but these (and all bulbs!) are toxic to cats.

Melt fat in pan, and saute livers JUST until ALMOST done. Do not overcook or the pate will lose its silky texture. Then sprinkle the herbs of choice. (Test them via smell on our kitty, or kitties. A sharpening of attention is a good sign; aversion will be quite evident.)

Now cool a bit (livers will finish cooking here) and scrape all contents onto a cutting board (if chopping by hand) or into a blender or food processor. If our cat likes chunky, hand mincing is easy and quick; if our cat likes smoothness, we can blend.

Be sure it has cooled to being only warm before offering it to our cat. Part of the fun is making a fuss over how good it smells. Get them worked up! This is Dinner Theatre.

Leftovers can be dabbed onto a sheet of waxed paper or into ice cube trays and put in the freezer for an hour or so. Then they can be put into a freezer bag for easy treats next time.

So good, and so good for them!

Now I have to figure out how to explain to my cats that garlic is not good for them, because they go after anything I have that is extra garliky. Silly felines, garlic is for everyone else.

How about it? Do you make your own pet treats? Have any favorite recipes you want to share? But what I really want are lots of pet stories, because I know you have them! Hit the comments.

Now on to the featured recipe. This all started because ButchF  said he makes dog biscuits every week for his dogs and they won’t accept anything else. I, of course, asked him to share the recipe.

Just a few notes from me – all my dogs have been allergic to corn – we’d get bad digestive issues. So if that’s the case for your furry critters, go ahead and substitute brown rice flour or oat flour for the corn meal in this recipe. It may very well change the texture, so experiment with the amount of substitution, just remember as ButchF notes, you want to be able to roll it out. As long as you can roll it out, it should be fine once you bake it. These are dog treats people, not gourmet crackers you are serving to company. Dogs will eat just about anything including cat droppings, horse apples and light bulbs. As long as the final product does not crumble onto your floor before they can wolf it down, you’re probably good.

On to the recipe.  From ButchF:

Dog Biscuits

This recipe has been modified pretty extensively from the original, which I found in an old cookbook. First, the original included boiled, pureed liver, which not only made the cookies perishable but meant handling boiled, pureed liver. Second, the original used so much water that the dough looked like pancake batter, and couldn’t be rolled out or cut.

There is a disadvantage to these treats. A while ago I got busy and bought some commercial milk bones because I didn’t have time to make the treats. The dogs would take them each to their designated snack spot, drop them on the floor, and stare forlornly at this strange foreign object they had been given.

Some optional additions to the recipe include ¼ cup or so wheat germ, ½ cup brewer’s yeast, or some grated cheese. Do not, unless you feel like cleaning the carpet, add bacon grease or leftover gravy.

  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon or so honey (I don’t measure)
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons bullion (powdered; the cubes won’t dissolve in the dough)(optional; also can use flavor packet from Ramen noodles)
  • 2½ cups warm water
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1¾ cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups corn meal (see TaMara’s note above)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (don’t substitute rye flour, because it behaves differently than wheat flours)
  • At least 3½ cups white flour.

Adding water and eggs first to the bowl first, combine all ingredients except white flour in a bowl, and then add white flour a cup at a time and mix well (best using a heavy-duty stand mixer). More than 3 1/2 cups of white flour may be needed. The goal is a smooth, cohesive dough that cleans the sides of the bowl and can be handled fairly easily, but don’t get it too dry or it becomes impossible to roll out.

Remove from bowl and let rest, covered, about a half hour; the goal is to let the gluten relax more than it is to allow the dough to rise. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll out each on a well-floured surface into a large rectangle to about pie crust thickness.

Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets and cut into rectangles to whatever size using a wheel pizza cutter. (I use four cookie sheets to bake; two are big enough that they take up most of an oven rack, and two are small enough that they will fit together on one rack, so that all three racks in the oven can be used.)

Bake at 300 degrees for about 55 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back at least once during baking; remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheets. Don’t cover until they’re thoroughly cool.

These cookies are at least a weekly chore with my four big dogs, so I don’t try to make shapes other than rectangles. If you do want to make shapes, transfer the rolled dough to the cookie sheets and then cut out the shapes, because otherwise the dough tends to stretch.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to tonight’s recipe exchange. And just a brief public service note from me. If your dog or cat has digestive issues, hot spots, chews or scratches incessantly, loses an excessive amount of hair, or their hair has a bad texture (too dry or too oily) these can all be signs of a corn allergy. Especially with breed dogs it can be bad. I learned this the hard way, with Great Danes and Greyhounds, all very big dogs to have to deal with these issues. (shudders from the memory)

This was before it was easy to find pet foods without corn, so I made my own. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but it solved all of their issues. Thank goodness you can find good quality food without corn now. My cats are on a corn-free diet, too and the shedding and fur balls are down to a minimum.  So if your favorite furry critter is suffering from any of those issues, my (not meant to be a substitute for a veterinarian)  advice it so start by getting rid of corn and corn meal. Maybe even go to a very basic lamb/brown rice food to see if helps. Some dogs (not naming names, Miss Shelby) can even be allergic to all grains. And grass. Some flowers. Possibly my ex-husband. So it may take some experimenting.

Vegetarian Meatballs

When I did the meatball post a while back, I asked for some vegetarian meatball recommendations. This was the one that I thought sounded really good and I can’t wait to try it. It may take me a while before I can get to it, so I thought I’d go ahead and link to the original recipe. I’ll revisit it when I have the chance to test it out.

From Macheesmo:

veg meatballs

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

Yield: Serves 4.  Prep Time:20 minutes   Total Time:50 minutes


  • 1 Cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 1/2-2 Cups Italian breadcrumbs (plus some for rolling)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Continue reading…

For the complete recipe, click on this link and let me know how yours turn out.

Mardi Gras: King Cake

King Cake from

King Cake from

I’ve actually made a King Cake for an awesome Mardi Gras party, quite fun and festive. When I went looking for a recipe to post today, I started at the FoodNetwork and found one that was highly rated. It looks much like the one I baked.  Don’t forget the baby!

King Cake

Courtesy of

For the Cake:

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 large egg yolks, plus 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the bowl

For the Filling and Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dry bean or plastic King Cake baby (available at party-supply stores or
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Purple, green and gold sanding sugar, for decorating

Make the cake: Heat the milk in a saucepan until scalding; transfer to a food processor, add the yeast and pulse to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour and the egg yolks; process to combine. Pour the remaining 2 cups flour evenly over the yeast mixture; do not process. Put the lid on; set aside for 90 minutes.

Add the 2 whole eggs, granulated sugar, lemon zest, salt and nutmeg to the food processor; process to make a slightly textured dough, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly add the butter to make a smooth, sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place for 3 hours. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead briefly; form into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Make the filling:
Plump the raisins in the bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the brown sugar, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, salt and the bean or plastic baby; mix until combined and set aside.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 20-by-7-inch rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Spoon the filling in an even layer over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the top and bottom. Fold the bottom and then the top edge over the filling to make a tight roll; pinch to seal. Transfer the roll seam-side down to a parchment-lined baking sheet; tuck one end into the other to form a ring. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the roll doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cake until firm and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Make the glaze:
Mix 3 tablespoons water with the confectioners’ sugar; brush 3 tablespoons glaze over the cake. Sprinkle with bands of colored sugar; drizzle with more glaze.

Photograph by Lara Robby/Studio D

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Stuffed Peppers

Photo by JeffreyW

I decided that we’d do stuffed peppers tonight and when I went trolling around the blog, found we’ve done a few variations on them over the years. Tonight’s featured recipe is from my cousin Scott. He mentions in the original post that we’re a family who loves to cook and I couldn’t agree more. On his side of my family, I think everyone has the gift in the kitchen. I have memories of my grandparents’ farm and the great food we’d have there. My Grandma Lois made the best fried eggs in the world that I have never been able to duplicate. They were crisp on the bottom (a treatment my family always called “shoe leather” –though that does not do that crust justice), perfectly medium on top and covered in so much pepper you’d sneezed just looking at them. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to come close to those eggs. I asked my mom a few years ago what I was missing and she replied, “lard”. And I’m sure it was previously used lard at that. Grandma Lois kept a can on the stove. It’s probably why her fried chicken was so amazing, too.

Anyway that story has nothing to do with tonight’s recipes. Stuffed peppers. We have several takes on them:

JeffreyW does a traditional Stuffed Peppers with homemade tomato soup (recipe here).

I have a pretty easy stuffed Red Pepper recipe – though you can use green peppers, no problem (recipe here).

And our featured recipe, below, from my Men Who Cook series, is a vegetarian treat.

How about you, any favorite memories of foods from childhood you can’t recreate? Do you have a different take on stuffed peppers that you like to use? Hit the comments and share.

Now for tonight’s featured recipe:

This comes from my cousin Scott Adams. Scottie follows in the footsteps of many in my family – the love of cooking (click here for the full story). These peppers are practically gourmet!

Scottie’s Stuffed Pepper’s

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound short whole wheat pasta
  • 4 large red bell peppers, tops cut off and reserved, seeded
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling
  • 4 jarred roasted red peppers
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stems discarded and leaves chopped
  • One 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups arugula or baby spinach (a few generous handfuls)
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of Dill

Preheat the oven to 425°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Trim the bottoms of the bell peppers, without cutting a hole, so that they stand. Season inside with salt and black pepper. Turn the peppers bottom side up in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, set the tops alongside and drizzle with EVOO. Roast for 20 minutes.

Using a food processor, puree the roasted red peppers. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic, mushrooms, crushed red pepper and rosemary and cook until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the pureed peppers and the fire-roasted tomatoes; season with salt and black pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and toss. Add the arugula and basil and cook until wilted.

Preheat the broiler. Turn the peppers upright; fill with pasta. Top with the cheese and broil until melted, 2 minutes. Cover with the tops and serve with any extra pasta.

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice sometime this evening.

A Weekend of Food

I was away last weekend for my dad’s 75th birthday and to catch up with family. Got to see the nieces, my brother, sister-in-law and the ‘rents. We had fun and lots of good food. My brother and I had a blast cooking together for my dad’s birthday. We raided both my dad’s garden and my brother’s for the freshest of vegetables.

But I have to confess, I annoyed the heck out of everyone. Every time someone asked me for a recipe, my answer was, “it’s on the blog.”

Chocolate Torte birthday cake? On the blog.

Fajitas? On the blog.

Marinades? On the blog

I could go on, but I won’t. If you want a recipe, all you need to do is use the “SEARCH  W4DS” box on the upper right-hand column. Over there…look up…all the way…there ya go. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always email me – that link is also on the right side, under the LINKS heading. I’ll do my best to help out.  Now how about some photos of the great food we had over the weekend?

Click on any picture to enlarge and see the slideshow.

Summer Rerun: Guest Recipe: Cabbage Rolls

I am reposting this because John Cole had a birthday last week and his dad made him cabbage rolls again and everyone was asking for the recipe. Here it is. Originally published August of 2010:

I was catching up on my Balloon-Juice reading one afternoon, when blog host John Cole mentioned that his dad was making cabbage rolls that night for dinner.  It so happens I’ve been looking for a good recipe for cabbage rolls for a while.  I figured if it was served in the Cole household it must be good.  John was kind enough to fulfill my request, so here is Dad Cole’s recipe:

Dad’s Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 medium size head of cabbage
  • (If you use Savoy cabbage, the cabbage will cook faster and the rolls are more delicate.)


  • 1 pound ground beef mixed with ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped small
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley, oregano, and basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste


  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp parsley, oregano, and basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in a cup of hot water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small can of sauerkraut

Boil three quarts of water in a large pot. Cut the core out of the cabbage and remove each cabbage leave carefully. When the water is boiling, drop the cabbage leaves into the water. Leave for at least two minutes. Remove and cool in ice cold water. Drain and then use a pair of shears to remove the hard ridge that is the spine of leaf. Set leaves aside on a paper towel to drain.

In a bowl, mix the beef and pork with the eggs, seasonings, rice, and tomato paste as though you were making a meatloaf.

Take a leaf, place a large tablespoon of the meat mixture at the core end of the leaf. Roll once, then fold each side over the mixture and complete rolling the filling to the end of the leaf.

Place rolls in a crock pot or baking casserole. As you layer them, spread the sauerkraut and any leaves not used after (chopped into fine strips). Mix sauce ingredients and pour over the rolls. Make certain there is enough liquid to cover the rolls. If using a crock pot, select the time. They can be cooked slowly over a 6-8 hour period, or within 4 hours. If baking, set the oven at 350 and bake for at least 1 ½ hours or until a fork can easily pierce a top roll. If more liquid is needed to keep the rolls covered, mix a small can of sauce with an equal amount water and add during the cooking time.

Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated aged Parmesan.

I can’t wait to have an occasion to try these out.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I only hang out at Balloon-Juice because I have a huge crush on this guy:

Balloon-Juice Lord and Master

John, I had to go back 4 months to find a good picture of Tunch,  which means one thing, MORE TUNCH please.

Men Who Cook: Bomb Cheese Sandwich

One of the morning drive DJs I listen to regularly wowed everyone with his lunch yesterday, so today he posted the recipe. Its deliciousness is second only to its simplicity:

Larry Ulibarri sandwich

Larry Ulibarri decided since the cheese sandwich was the most popular lunch item, he would make them for everyone today. The BOMB CHEESE SANDWICH. Mozzarella, Olive Oil, Balsamic, Basil, Tomato, Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt, Salami (if you want) on crusty bread. Nom Nom Nom

I have to agree. Nom. Nom. Nom.