I bugged my husband for years about getting a puppy. But Sam always argued that we should wait until all three of our kids were out of diapers before we became pet owners. He had a point.
I grew up with dogs but was never responsible for raising one. As an adult, I knew it would require a lot of work, but that didn't stop me from obsessively browsing petfinder.com, posting pictures of other people's adorable puppies on Sam's Facebook page and sounding off about how much I wanted a dog to anyone who would listen.
Sam finally relented, and for our anniversary, in May — 18 months after potty training our youngest kid — he surprised me with Izzy, a black-Lab-mix rescue pup.
Izzy is a lot of work, but she's worth it. I love taking her for walks, running around outside with her, watching her snuggle with the kids and snuggling her myself. I've even enjoyed training her.
In my role as lunch lady at Burlington Children's Space, I spend most of my time cooking for others. These days, that includes cooking for the dog. I don't mean meals; I haven't gone down the homemade-dog-food road — yet. But making treats is one of the ways I show love to my family, and that includes Izzy now.
My kids and I love to bake soft pretzels (find the recipe at kidsvt.com). Izzy would die to get her paws on one of those salty twists, so I decided to make a smaller, crunchier, peanut-butter-flavored version just for her. I hope they're a hit with your furry friends!
Izzy's Peanut-Butter-Pretzel Pup Treats
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking powder. In another bowl, mix the soy milk, honey and peanut butter.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, a little at a time, stirring to combine before adding more. The dough should be stiff.
- Now, the fun part! Make the treats into whatever shapes you like, either by molding the dough by hand or rolling it out and using cookie cutters. If you're making pretzels, roll the dough into a rough oval, then cut it into strips and roll them into strands about eight inches long. Twist each strand into a pretzel shape, then transfer to the lined baking sheets.
- Bake treats for about 25 minutes, or until they turn golden brown.>
Store in a paper bag at room temperature for up to a week.
Soft Pretzels (makes 16 full-size or 32 miniature pretzels)
adapted from marthastewart.com
- 2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 5-6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons canola or other vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg
- coarse salt
- Pour the warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar into a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, then let sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear. The mixture should look foamy around the edges. If it doesn't, your yeast might be expired. Try another packet.
- Add the flour to the yeast mixture, one cup at a time, mixing well with a wooden spoon at first. When the dough starts to come together, use your hands to continue mixing until it forms a ball. If the dough is still wet and sticky after you've added all the flour, add - cup more and knead until combined. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for a minute or so, until smooth.
- Pour the oil into a large bowl, swirling it around to coat. Put your dough in the bowl and roll it around to make sure it's covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave it in a warm area to rise for about one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Heat your oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. When the dough has risen, squash it down with your fist to get rid of any air bubbles. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead a few times, then split it into 16 pieces, or 32 pieces for mini-pretzels. Cover them with plastic wrap or parchment to keep them from drying out while you work.
- Roll each dough ball into a strand about 18 inches long. Twist it into any shape you want, then carefully move it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can probably fit eight per sheet; you may need a third sheet if you're making minis. Cover again with a towel and let them rise another 15 minutes.
- While you're waiting, fill a large, shallow soup pot with two inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add the baking soda — watch out, it foams right up — and the last 2 tablespoons of sugar. Reduce heat so the water reaches a low, simmering boil, then transfer three or four pretzels into the water. Poach them for one minute per side. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and transfer them back to the baking sheet.
- Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water; brush this glaze on the tops of the pretzels. Sprinkle generously with salt. Bake until dark golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Try to let them cool a little before digging in. These are best eaten the same day, but you can keep them uncovered or in a paper bag for up to two days. Don't store them in a covered container or they'll get soggy.