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Dog Treat Recipe of the Month: Kira’s Savory Birthday Cupcakes!

Operation Kira's Birthday was go, so I made a jazzed-up version of meatloaf muffins.

Claire Lower  |  Apr 23rd 2015


I am terrible with birthdays. If I have ever sent you a birthday card on time, it’s only because social media reminded me to. It’s not personal; I just don’t have a brain that remembers dates very well. It took me three years of dating to remember my now-husband’s day of birth. (His is the day before Mick Jagger’s, and I kept mixing the two up. To be fair, I’ve been a fan of Mick Jagger much longer than I’ve been a fan of my husband.)

Given my shortcomings in the area, I’m always surprised when people manage to not only remember their pet’s birthday, but remember it far enough in advance so that they have time to plan a little party and bake or order a little cake.

Honestly, I have no idea when Angie was born. My mom probably knows (she delivered her), but I either never knew the date or have forgotten it. My husband is the opposite. He remembers exactly when “his dog” was born and starts reminding me about a month out. This year was no different, except he upped the ante by suggesting I actually “do something about it” and make Kira the birthday treat she deserves. (Angie could have some, too.)

Kira is ready in her birthday best.

I could have gone with this cake a lot of ways. Peanut butter and carrot are both great flavors for pooch-friendly birthday cakes, but we just did a treat that heavily featured both of those ingredients. I was in quite a quandary, but luckily inspiration — or should I say Pinspiration? — struck. I was browsing through the food section of Pinterest when I saw them: meatloaf muffins.

What could be more perfect? Obviously some substitutions and swaps would need to be made — onions and Worcestershire sauce aren’t Fido-approved — but the concept was solid. I added in some apples and carrots, with some oats to help bind it all together, and we were in business. Operation Kira’s Birthday was go!

This recipe is a big one. Unless you are throwing a huge, barking blowout with lots of guests, you probably don’t need to make a dozen of these treats, so feel free to scale the recipe up or down as needed. (You could always make a batch of the batter, use what you need, and freeze the rest for later use.) It should be also noted that the following recipe is quite indulgent by canine standards, so try giving your pooch a quarter of a cupcake at a time, and, as always, consult your veterinarian before introducing a new treat into your pet’s diet.

How festive are these?

Kira’s Savory Birthday Cupcakes (makes about a dozen cupcakes):

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 12 strips of reduced-sodium, uncured bacon
  • 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground meat (beef, turkey, or lamb all work great)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 apple, shredded
  • 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats

For the frosting:

  • 16 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • Store-bought treats in fun shapes for decorating (optional)

Other equipment:

  • Muffin tin

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Cut a 1-inch piece off the end of each strip of bacon and place the pieces in the centers of the muffin tin cups. Wrap the remaining pieces of bacon around the edge of each cup. Set muffin tin aside.

This is your cupcake “wrapper.”

3. In a large bowl, mix together all of the cupcake ingredients until the oats, shredded carrots, and shredded apples are evenly distributed throughout the meat. Using an ice cream scoop (or your hands), fill the muffin tins with the mixture, pressing it down firmly so that there are no gaps between the meat and the bacon. Continue to add more of the meat mixture until the cupcake has a slightly rounded top. Bake for 20 minutes, cutting one of the cakes open to make sure they are cooked through. Once the meat is cooked through, allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

4. Once the cupcakes are cool, make the frosting. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and whip with an electric mixer until the mixture reaches a spreadable, frosting-like consistency. This works best if the cream cheese is allowed to soften a bit beforehand.

5. Get that frosting on the cupcakes however you see fit! You can spread it on with a spatula or get fancy with a piping bag; either way your pup is sure to think it’s the prettiest treat he has ever seen! If you want to get really next-level, you can crush up some colorful treats to use as “sprinkles,” or just plunk a whole treat on top.

Don’t forget the candle.

Once the cakes were frosted, it was time to party! I think this treat was particularly well-received, but let’s hear from the birthday girl herself!

Kira wished that I would just let her eat one already.

Kira:

I’m going to be honest, there was a lot of work required before I was allowed to eat this thing. First I had to get dressed up in a pink bandanna, then Claire tried to get me to sit at the table like a human, then she tried to light the treat on fire! I also had to “sit” over and over. I’m not sure why Claire was so obsessed with this particular trick. I know others! The whole thing was very confusing. (Plus, I had to share with the little one. She should get her own berfday!)

Luckily, this “berfday cake” was one of Claire’s better efforts. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this was straight-up human food. I could prattle on and on about how the sweet carrots and tart apples helped to provide a counterbalance to the meaty cake, but instead I’ll leave you with this.

Happy birthday, Kira! We love you very much!

Do you celebrate your pup’s birthday? What kind of treats do you give on this special day?

Read more Dog Treat Recipes of the Month by Claire Lower:

About the author: Claire Lower is a freelance writer who holds a B.S. in chemistry. After seven years of sweating in Florida, she and her husband packed everything up and drove to Oregon with their two dogs and one very well-behaved cat. She now spends most of her time trying to convince her spaniel that walking in the rain can be fun. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.