Queen Kong and Frozen Tarts
Man oh man! It’s been a while since I’ve been here, even longer since I shared a recipe with y’all. There’s a lot going on in Darla-Land right now. (AKA Dar La-La land) I cannot even begin to tell you about it- so I won’t. I’ll tell you later, in another post when everything seems more real to me. For now, I want to talk about dogs. Of course! Of course, I want to talk about dogs because dogs are what I’ve been doing. I know I said I wasn’t going talk about what’s going on and I’m not, but I will tell you all four of them are a big part of it.
With that said, this needs to be said, “dogs need stuff to do when we are gone.”
Three of my guys are just under one year old- trust me…
What do experienced dog owners say? “Get a Kong! Get a Kong!” I think most dog owners are familiar with the big hollow red rubber toy known as KONG. For every dog I’ve ever wanted to make happy I have bought a Kong. I’ve always heard how great they were and how much dogs loved them. The idea is to fill it full of nice things that the dog will like and it will keep the dog entertained and out of trouble for hours. Indeed, if I smeared peanut butter on it and put some treats in it– it would keep my dog occupied for as long as it took them to eat the treats and lick the peanut butter. The longest it ever took? 10 minutes. And that’s an exaggeration! So the Kong became another toy that rolled under the couch no one bothered to retrieve because after 10 minutes it was a “tasteless rubber thing.” Great. $10. Wasted.
(cue the angel chorus)
And then a miracle happened. (Have you noticed that the theme in many of my blog posts are about miraculous food revelations?) While surfing the Interwebs I came across a discussion regarding this exact KONG issue. Someone mentioned if you freeze the big rubber plug with the good stuff in it it will last much longer.
Fill and FREEZE?
OH! OF-FRIGGIN-COURSE! GENIUS!
Friends, if you love a dog and you own a Kong go get it out from underneath the couch and throw it in the top rack of the dishwasher. While it’s washing make these:
2 large bananas
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt Greek or regular
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter (or any other nut butter your dog prefers
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
1 small apple, or berries or other dog approved fruits
frozen carrots or your dog’s favorite vegetables
your choice of dog treats (the number and size of which will depend on the size of your Kong toy)
Mash one of the bananas and put it into a medium-size bowl. Add the yogurt, sunflower seed butter, the vanilla extract and cinnamon. Mix this with a fork or whisk until it’s smooth. You might need to add a little warm water to bring it to the consistency of a thick milkshake. Set aside.
Slice the remaining banana. Wash the apple and chop it into appropriate size pieces for your Kong treat.
**Notice here that your big rubber Kong has a large hole in one end and a small hole in the other end. We need to plug the small hole so your wonderful banana mixture doesn’t run out.***
Take a piece of apple and smash it into the small hole from the outside. You’re actually creating a plug inside the Kong. Once you’ve smashed some of the apple into the small hole and plugged the hole (look and make certain it is plugged) toss that left over smashed piece of apple into the big hole of your Kong.
Add some banana slices, more apple pieces some berries or some sliced frozen carrots- whatever fruit and veggies your dogs like. I like to break up a few of the hypoallergenic dog treat from the vet and stick them in there. Sometimes I put some kibble inside, you could also use dry cereal if your dog is not allergic. If you feed raw you could use pieces of raw meat or your fancy frozen raw food. I think you get the idea, whatever your dog likes as treats stuff them in there! You don’t want to pack them too tight because the next step is very important.
Once you have your Kong toy stuffed with goodies you need to spoon the banana-yogurt- nut butter mixture inside. To do this successfully you need to stand it on its end with the small side down. (Please remember to plug the toy before you began to fill it with the liquid.) I stress this point because I know someone who happened upon this very important point in the R&D department for this very blog) If you’re making only one Kong you can stand it inside of a glass or coffee cup to fill and freeze. I’m usually making several at once so I have a few days worth to hand out so I stand mine a few at a time in a loaf pan or a shallow bowl. It is important to make sure that the toy does not fall over.
Use a spoon and fill the Kong with the delicious banana liquid mixture.
Here’s the key, stick it in the freezer. Yep. That’s it! Freeze that thing! I freeze mine overnight but probably three or four hours would be plenty. Once it’s frozen it lasts forever. Your dog will lick this and stick his tongue in there to get out the frozen deliciousness for a very long time. You will be happy because you can do things like shop, or bathe or read! It is a glorious quiet miracle waiting in the freezer!
More than likely you’re going to have leftover banana mixture as well as leftover chopped up fruit. PERFECT! Use the leftovers to make a few frozen tart treats. I have a heart-shaped silicone baking pan that I picked up at Target last year for a dollar at Valentine’s Day. I used this silicone tray to make my little frozen tart dog treats and it worked perfectly. Here’s what I did:
Tarts of Ice
Place the chopped up apples, berries, carrots, kibble, sliced bananas or peaches and dog treats you had left over in a silicone cupcake mold, a muffin tin or a regular ice-cube tray. The more items you use the less liquid you will need. Also keep in mind if you use too many extras your tarts won’t hold up to chewing as long. It’s the ice – the liquid – that soaks into the fruit as well as the kibble and then freezes that makes these treats long-lasting.
Add enough warm water to the banana yogurt sunflower seed butter mixture you have left over in the bowl to fill as many ice-cube molds as you intend to use. You can always add a little bit more yogurt or sunflower seed butter or water if you need to. You’re going to do this simply by sight not by measurement. Mine is usually pretty dilute. Your dog is going to love this.
Pour the liquid over the fruits leaving a quarter-inch space at the top of the mould. Place these in the freezer until frozen solid. Once they’re frozen pop them out of the mould by running warm water along the bottom if necessary and store them in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. I find these smaller treats fun for any time OUTSIDE or on an easily cleaned surface such as my kitchen floor. I only give my guys the big Queen Kong toy treats if I’m crating them or if I need them occupied for a couple of hours while I’m working at home.
Have fun making these beautiful delicious treats and Kongs for your babies AND feel better about having a little alone time.