I may have officially lost my mind.
It’s New Years Resolution season and it seems everyone around me has sworn off baked goods and bacon (blasphemy!) and all things chocolate-covered. A few days ago I was having a conversation with a friend about healthier baking … not dog treats, exactly, but just baked deliciousness in general, and what level of sacrifice is necessary to turn good things into slightly-less-delicious-but-much-healthier things (note: if you believe raisins are an acceptable substitute for chocolate chips in a cookie, you can get the $!&% out right now, because you’re not welcome here).
I was lamenting my general lack of culinary skills in this area when my friend said – rather innocently – “it’s not that hard… just throw some things in a bowl. It’ll work out.”
Now, this friend bakes. And I mean she really bakes. Her cookies are the kind that make angels weep with joy. Mine? Hahahahahaha. The idea of “throwing some things in a bowl” and expecting them to come out as any kind of edible creation is pretty much an impossible dream for me. It’s like when you ask your grandmother for the recipe for your favourite cake, and it’s always “a little of this, and some of that” and then next thing you know you’re standing in a disaster zone of flung coco powder and spilled milk, having a weepy meltdown on your kitchen floor because you’ll never be able to replicate your grandmother’s recipe and why couldn’t she just use a @#^%#*! measuring cup?! WHY?!
But I digress.
Anyway, the whole conversation got me thinking about expectations. I would normally have high expectations for myself, but reality has set in as far as the kitchen is concerned. I am, as they say, hopeless. But my dogs… their expectations are very low. In fact, they have none at all really… homemade cookies? Awesome! Store-bought treats? Awesome! Random scraps off your plate? Awesome! Goo on the side of the road? Probably awesome but Mom’s a jerk and won’t let me taste it. Thanks Mom.
So what harm could it do to “throw some things in a bowl” and see how it works out?
A quick once-over of my fridge, freezer and pantry revealed… that I need groceries, mostly, but also turned up a couple of yummy options for treat ingredients.
- Chicken – specifically freezer-burned chicken from the bottom of the freezer. Ew, right? Except that freezer burn only affects the taste (not the nutritional value or the safety) of chicken and once it’s boiled, chopped, and baked into a cookie do you really think your dog is going to care?
- Cheese – my dogs love cheese. I could put cheese on literally anything and they’d eat it. I feel like these cookies might need the help.
- Eggs… because binding agent, and also cookies.
- Water… no wait, chicken stock! Oooooooh fancy……
Armed with what would surely be a non-recipe for disaster… we started.
I started with the cheese because it was the easiest… although it did attract some attention from the peanut gallery.
I’ll spare you the boiled chicken photos because… blech. It’s a really attractive process. Two full chicken breasts amount to about 1.5 cups of chopped chicken, which of course had to be sampled to ensure the dogs didn’t mind a little freezer burn.
I added the egg and tried to decide where to start with the flour, since I’m literally making this up as I go along..
I started with a cup and a half of flour, which seemed reasonable, and added a 1/4 cup of chicken stock to moisten things up. That was too dry, so in went another 1/4 cup of chicken stock, but then that was too wet (of course) so I added another half cup of flour, roughly, and mushed it around and then it kind of looked right-ish so I figured that was close enough.
The usual process followed… got flour everywhere (including up my nose, somehow, and completely unknowingly, which caused some serious concern when I sneeze later and flour came out), rolled out the dough, got it stuck to the rolling pin, cursed a lot, pried it off, started again, got more flour everywhere, sighed, considered evaluating my life choices, got the dough rolled out, and searched for an appropriate cookie cutter. The dough was still pretty sticky, so I opted out of the cute bones and found a simple heart-shaped cutter instead. And then I started cutting.
And I cut, and I cut… and I cut and cut and sweet baby jeebus how many cookies did I accidentally make?
144, it turns out. And I turfed some of the dough because I ran out of space on the trays. I think 160 or 170 was probably where we would have landed.
I popped them in the oven at 350, cause… 350 seemed about right? I checked on them every 5 minutes and at about the 25 minute mark they were “done” (and by “done” I mean “slightly-harder-than-I-anticipated-but-still-not-browned-wtf-you-know-what-they’re-fine”).
Of course, the true test is always whether the dogs will eat them, and how enthusiastic they are about seconds.
The first taste is always a little hesitant… they may be dogs but they also know my baking skills. In the end, though, I think they turned out just fine… because the dogs love them, so who cares about the rest?
Note to self… work on Kaylee’s catching skills.
I can’t imagine anyone will ever want to make these, but hey, just in case…
Chicken & Cheese Made Up Dog Cookies
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled and finely chopped (approx 1.5 cups)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups flour, plus some for rolling out your dough
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
Mix chicken, cheese, egg, flour and chicken stock together in a bowl, adding more flour as necessary until you get a cookie-dough like texture.
Roll out dough on floured counter to 1/4″ thick and try not to pitch the whole thing into the garbage as you fight with the dough.
Cut into shapes (depending on the size of your dog, you may want to go larger or smaller)
Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake approx 20-25 minutes, or until cookies harden. Allow to cool.
Makes approx 150, 1″ diameter cookies. Each cookie is approximately 15 calories.