My young ones are OBSESSED with dogs. I love dogs, too, but am not planning on adopting one anytime soon. Truthfully – it would push me over the edge.
Every Christmas the kids ask for dog. And in the summer when they blow on dandelion flowers and make a wish – they always wish that they could have a dog. Somedays I think I should buck up and make their dreams come true, but in the mean time, I try to support their relationships with our four-legged friends in every way I can. We’ve spent countless hours at the local make-shift dog park hanging out with local pups. We always stop to say hello, shake a paw, give a pat, even when it makes us late. And every Christmas our holiday baking includes gingerbread and dog biscuits.
This year we tried Ina Garten’s (aka Barefoot Contessa’s) Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits. This recipe is a winner, the best we’ve made to date – and it was really easy to make.
Barefoot Contessa's Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
This adapted recipe comes from Ina Garten's <em>Make It Ahead</em> cookbook. She uses stone-ground whole wheat flour, quick cooking oats, and wheat germ. We used regular whole-wheat flour, large flake oats, and omitted the wheat germ because that's what we had on hand. The biscuits still turned out beautifully and they smelled so good that my kids wanted to eat them.
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup large flake oats, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
1 cup of water
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 325F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients except water and egg.
With mixer on low speed add the water and the egg and mix until it forms a slightly sticky ball.
Dump dough on well-floured board, knead into ball, and roll out 1/2 inch thick. (We were inconsistent with the thickness and the biscuits turned out just fine.)
Dip cookie cutters into flour and cut out shapes. Collect scraps, roll out again, and cut out more biscuits.
Place biscuits on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with oats.
We love scenting our playdough. In fact, these days we never make it unscented. Heads would roll.
Although we often add spices and kitchen ingredients to create various scents lately we have found ourselves using essential oils more often than not. There is such a broad range to choose from and it’s so dang easy to simply add a couple of drops of oil to the dough and elevate this sensory activity.
The scent of cedarwood is warm and woodsy – perfect for cozy days inside during the holidays. It is said to improve focus, relieve tension and headaches, and help with breathing when you have a cough or cold. My little ones basically have colds and coughs consistently from November to March so that last benefit really appeals to me.
This Christmas I've been making a cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts. I wasn't sure how the kids would react to the smell but wanted to try something a little different. The warm and woodsy scent immediately makes you feel relaxed and cozy, so, needless to say, they loved it.
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
2 cups of water
2 tbsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp cooking oil, such as canola oil
dark green food colouring
cedarwood essential oil
Mix all the ingredients, except for the essential oil, in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes. The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch. (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
Remove the dough from the pot and allow to cool slightly. Add several drops of cedarwood essential oil and knead dough until it’s uniform and the oil is fully incorporated.
Store dough in an air-tight container.
Not sure what to do with your bottle of cedarwood essential oil?
Here are some uses that I’ve read about and am interested in exploring:
To treat eczema: Many people add a few drops of cedarwood oil to coconut oil and apply it topically. They say it is an effective home remedy in treating eczema. One of my daughters has eczema and I’m always looking for alternative, more natural solutions for treating her skin.
As a bug repellant – including moths: I can’t stand mothballs and refuse to use them. For many years I have put cedar in our closets but the smell fades and it becomes ineffective as a moth deterrent. Adding cedarwood essential oil to cotton balls sounds like a great alternative mothballs – one that I am going to try this winter.
To reduce arthritis: I recently sold some playdough at a craft show and was amazed that many of the purchases made were for adults, including a woman who said her elderly mother loves using playdough to combat her arthritis. Inhaling cedarwood oil and using it on your skin is said to reduce inflammation and reduce joint stiffness. Based on this, the combo of cedarwood oil and playdough is probably worth trying by those with arthritic hands and fingers.
To treat ADHD: Many people site a study by Terry S. Friedman where he effectivity used cedarwood oil and vetiver oil in the treatment of children diagnosed as having ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). It’s promising but this case study was so small that I think this treatment should only be considered effective for some on a case by case basis. I have several friends with children on the Autism Spectrum, with ADHD, or with SPD (sensory processing disorder). Playdough can be an effective therapy tool. I’d love to better understand how adding scents to playdough can benefit those kids in my life.
The information above is NOT intended as medical advice. I am simply sharing information that I’ve read. You should always seek advice from a qualified health care professional before proceeding with treatment of any health issue.
We make homemade salt dough ornaments every Christmas. It’s a lovely tradition that we look forward to every year.
If you have never made them and want to, it is incredibly easy. Simply mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt, then mix in 1 cup of warm water. Roll out dough, cut out shapes, poke a hole in the top with a straw, then bake at the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the dough is completely dry. This can take several hours depending on the temperature and the thickness of the dough. Allow the ornaments to completely cool, paint, and add glitter glue if inclined. Lastly, thread a ribbon or string through the hole and tie for hanging. Done!
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup warm water
In a bowl, combine flour and salt.
Add water and mix together.
Remove dough from bowl and place on counter, shape into ball, and knead with your hands until thoroughly combined.
With rolling pin, roll out dough.
Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Using a straw, poke a hole in the top of the ornament. Continue to combine dough scraps into a ball and re-roll out until dough is used up.
Place ornaments on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Bake ornaments at 200F or the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the ornaments are completely dry. This can take about 2-3 hours depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of the dough. Allow to cool completely.
Paint – we use acrylic paints. Add glitter glue (if desired). Allow to dry.
Thread a ribbon or string through hole and tie for hanging.
The ornaments puff up at higher temperatures which is why I recommend the lowest temperature possible. My old oven could be set to 200 F but my new one only goes as low as 250 F. A dehydrator can also be used and gives very consistent results.
If the dough mixture is a little dry simply add a tbsp of water at a time until it comes together. If the dough is too sticky simply sprinkle and knead in a tbsp of flour at time until the dough is no longer sticky.