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.
The kids went nuts when they saw this little playdough pumpkin pie. I set it out for them when they got home from school. They immediately dove into the activity using their social skills and math skills to negotiate how to divide up the pie. They cut, counted and distributed the pieces then they smooshed it up to create new things. Playdough is a great toy – and even when it’s presented as something specific (like a pie in this case) – it still ends up in open-ended play.
The warm scent of pumpkin pie spice is so cozy and relaxing. Perfect for chilly fall days.
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
2 cups of water
2 tbsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp of pumpkin spice
2 tbsp oil
add orange food colouring for pumpkin pie filling, leave it out for the crust colour
Mix all the ingredients 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. Allow to cool slightly and knead.
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.
Parents are often concerned with their children having too much Halloween candy. The Switch Witch strategy is both a trick and a treat!
My 5-year-old daughter has a friend with Type 1 Diabetes. He is incredibly sweet and seems to have accepted that he simply can’t have that piece of cake at a birthday party or that popsicle that some parent had kindly brought for the kids at the park. He is so good-natured and so mature about this but sometimes I can’t help but think he must be disappointed or feel left out. As much as Halloween is about dressing up in costumes and parading about – for my little ones it seems like the candy tops the list of reasons to celebrate this holiday.
I have always shelled out a mix of play dough and candy on Halloween in an effort to cut back on the candy a little. I allow my kids to binge and then I reduce and hide the remaining candy in an attempt to make them eat less and/or forget about it. I am hopeful they are left feeling satisfied with the outcome of the event. But what if I had a kid with juvenile diabetes and he or she simply couldn’t have any candy? It would suck. Or would it? When I saw the boy’s mother I asked “what are you going to do?” Her answer “Switch Witch!”
The Switch Witch is brilliant!
My daughter and her friends are so excited about the idea of handing over their candy on Halloween!
The basic concept is that the Switch Witch will switch out or trade a child’s Halloween candy for a toy. I know this could be negotiated with your child in a boring parental way but by incorporating the Switch Witch idea it keeps the holiday feeling a little more magical. And for that kid with diabetes – he feels very, very special because it’s not fun for that kid (or any kid) to always have to choose responsibility over fun. It’s so easy to use this concept and adapt it in whatever way best suits your family.
Tonight my daughter has said she wants to eat some candy tonight (some can mean anything) and then she wants to write a letter to the Switch Witch asking if she can switch her candy for a toy (not sure of what she’ll ask for). She asked me if that was okay. I said “YEEESSSSSSSSSSS!” And then I did a somersault and a back flip (in my head). It’s all about balance.