Home Brewing and Spent Grain Dog Treats

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We spent Sunday home brewing our next beer for an event that our friends put together called Fe-brew-ary – more on that event in a later post. I think this batch is going to come out good, but time will tell…

We brewed an all-grain batch of brown ale this time. We used a lot of grains… too many for our pot… so we ended up rigging up this cooler system. It was pretty funny, but it worked.

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Throughout our brewing process, the dog seemed a little stressed out that we were rearranging the kitchen. He’s in the picture above looking distraught.

Making an all-grain batch of beer leaves you with A LOT of spent grains. It seems like such a waste to throw them out so I started making Monk some doggie treats out of them. Maybe if he knows treats come after beer he will relax a little.

A little FYI – Dog can not have hops!! It can really hurt them. You can read about it here. The spent grains come from the step in the beer making process BEFORE you add hops – so they are safe to use. If there are hops mixed in with your grains, do not use them for dog treats! Here is our boiling pot after we added hops… don’t let your doggie get into that!

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For the dog treats:

Collect about 4 cups of the spent beer grains and drain them well. The more moisture they contain, the longer your biscuits will take to dry out.

In a stand mixer combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 4 cups of spent grains, two large eggs, and about 1 cup of peanut butter. Mix until everything is combined.

You can make the treats two ways: squares or roll them into small balls, just like mini meatballs! It is kind of difficult to make them into other shapes because the dough is super sticky, not really cookie cutter friendly.

To make the mini meatballs, just roll the dough out into small balls and place them on the tray. It’s ok if they touch a little bit because they will break apart. Bake the treats for 1 hour at 350 degrees F for about an hour. Break up any treats that have stuck together and turn the oven down to 200 degrees F. Let the treats bake for a few hours, or until they are hard. Make sure they dry out throughly or else you won’t be able to keep them for long… they will get moldy!

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To make square biscuits, spread the mixture onto a sheet pan in a layer about 1/4 inch thick. Bake it at 350 degrees F for about an hour. Remove the pan from the oven and cut the sheet into smaller bite size squares. Separate the squares, turn down the oven to 200 degrees F and place them back in the oven for a few hours. Make sure they dry out, remember they won’t keep if they are still moist inside. If you use this method, make sure you cut the treats after an hour – If you bake it for too long and let the whole pan get hard it is really difficult to break apart.

Another variation is to add some beef flavoring to the treats instead of peanut butter. I recommend using these new concentrated broth packets made by Knorr. There’s a lot of flavor packed into the little packet and it won’t make your treats too wet like adding regular stock would.

I hope your doggie likes them… Monk does! He patiently waits for them to come out of the oven.

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

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This is one of my most favorite meals for fall. It is creamy, delicious and can be made so many ways!

I got the original recipe from Giada DeLorentis, from the food network. Her version was made to be a side dish and didn’t include meat or other vegetables, so you could leave those out if you want a simpler version of this lasagna. I haven’t actually read that recipe in a while because I have been tweaking this recipe ever since I started making it.  I added in some things to the layers to take it from a side dish to a hearty main dish. There are a few components to this dish that you must prepare before you layer it all together; the cream sauce, the butternut squash puree, and the sautéed kale (If you choose to add it). You make each one separately and then layer them in a large baking dish with cheese and lasagna noodles.

For the creme sauce:

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small chopped onion

2 large cloves minced garlic

4 tbsp flour

1/2 cup chicken stock

4 cups whole milk

salt and pepper

a piece of whole nutmeg (or about 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg)

1/2 cup packed fresh basil

Add 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil to a large saute pan. Add the chopped onions and 2 cloves of the minced garlic and saute just for a minute. Add 4 tbsp Flour and whisk while cooking for a few minutes to make a roux. Whisk until the four mixture turns a golden color. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and whisk until it is absorbed by the roux. Add the warmed milk 1 cup at a time and whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Add each cup while whisking and simmer on low until sauce is a nice creamy consistency. Season with salt, pepper and about 1/2 of a freshly grated nutmeg. Put the fresh basil into a blender and ladle about two cups of the white creme sauce into the blender. Blend until the basil is fully incorporated, pour the mixture back into the rest of the sauce and stir to incorporate.

For the butternut squash puree:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium-sized butternut squash

1/2 cup chicken stock

salt and pepper

4-5 small Amaretti cookies

In a sauce pot, heat the olive oil and saute the butternut squash until some are lightly golden. Add in the chicken stock, cover and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender. Blend the squash in a food processor until smooth and add in 4-5 Amaretti cookies and blend until they are crushed and mixed in.

For the sautéed kale:

1 bunch of purple kale

2 cloves minced garlic

Salt and pepper

a piece of whole nutmeg (or about 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg)

Clean and cut up the kale. In a large saute pan, heat the oil and begin to saute the kale, add in the garlic when the kale starts to wilt. Saute the kale until it is wilted and soft and season it with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

To assemble the lasagna:

24 No-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla makes this and they are pretty easy to find)

1 lb Ricotta Cheese

1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese – or you can use your favorite blend of any Italian cheeses

Basil creme sauce

Butternut squash pure

Sautéed kale

1 lb of you favorite turkey sausage

Sautéed the sausage and brake it into small pieces until it is cooked through – I like the cranberry sausage, apple sausage, or sage sausage from The Turkey Lady in the Lancaster Central Market. I would choose a sweeter sausage rather than a spicy one for this dish.

In a 9×13 inch baking dish,  begin with a layer of creme sauce (a little less than 1/3 of the sauce), top it with about 6 noodles, depending on how they fit, just make sure you make a solid layer. Add about half of the butternut squash puree and about half of the ricotta cheese to the next layer. Top that with the turkey sausage and cover it with another layer of noodles. Cover those noodles with another third of the creme sauce. Add the sauteed kale in the next layer and about half of the shredded cheese. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the butternut squash puree and the rest of the ricotta cheese. Top it with another layer of noodles and cover them with the rest of the creme sauce. Make sure the whole top layer of noodles is covered or they might not get fully soft. Top the whole thing with the rest of the shredded cheese.

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese on top starts to get brown and bubbly. Let the lasagna sit for about 15 minutes before cutting – otherwise the layers might slide and the pieces might fall apart.

I hope you enjoy this dish! It does have a lot of steps but it is delicious. I bet it will become one of your favorite fall foods!

A note about freezing this lasagna:

*You can use a 9×13 inch baking dish or two smaller baking dishes to build this lasagna. It freezes great – both uncooked and cooked!

If you baked a large pan and you have any left over, you can cut it into single portions and wrap the pieces tightly in plastic wrap. You’ll have single servings that you can unwrap and reheat it in the microwave easily.

If you don’t bake a large pan, split it into two baking dishes and freeze one. It is nice to have it on hand to bake it when you need it. It does take a long time to bake when it is frozen… but it tastes like you just made it, even after two months in the freezer! Just make sure you really wrap it up good to prevent freezer burn. You could defrost it in the refrigerator over night or put it in the oven frozen. It may take up to 4 hours to bake through if it is frozen when you pop it in the oven. So plan ahead a little bit.