We Rescued Each Other.

rescue pets

We have become proud rescue pet owners.

For the full story, you can read it HERE. My husband, Cassidy, had been casually (or not casually) perusing photos of dogs in need of rescue and he fell in love with a young Husky/Basenji mix puppy who had been given a rough start to her life. Luckily through a wonderful rescue organization and foster family experience, he went to pick Athena up in Vermont one chilly morning last March. We thought he was at work. Both kids were sick. Cassidy suddenly pulled into the driveway, ran into the house, and called for me to get my camera to photograph a supposed dent on his car. There was no dent. He was not at work.

Luckily I had my camera ready even though I had no idea what was about to change.

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And that is how we became rescue pet owners. The process was similar when we got our cats, although not as surprising since I was in on it. We have found the greatest love in our dog Athena, and we are so thankful every day that we rescued her, and she rescued us too. We have incredible times with her in the garden, and with snuggling, and at our town’s wonderful and adventurous dog park. Our five-year-old takes an active part in the dog’s care and training, and we hope for the same for our two-year-old eventually. We are now avid rescue pet owners and supporters. We took a chance on her and she took one on us.

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Speaking of taking chances, I chose chicken and rice meatballs as my recipe to make for this post. I have never cooked chicken from scratch in my life! Or any meat, for that matter. It all comes with the territory of being domestically challenged, but I rose to this challenge! I picked a recipe both kids would like, and I was so surprised that Scarlet loved the meatballs! It doesn’t hurt that they’re filled with yummy cheese. My mom, husband and son loved them too.

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This recipe is meant for humans, but it’s inspired by Rachael Ray’s Nutrish brand dog food – Chicken Muttballs with Rice product. For Rachael, food equals love — whether she’s cooking a meal for friends or working with pet nutrition experts to create delicious recipes for your furry companions. She also believes that everyone — even your dog or cat — should be able to enjoy meals made with simple natural ingredients like real meat and wholesome veggies.

And because we all know mealtime is better when you share it with someone you love, we’ve paired some of Rachael’s favorite recipes with their companion Nutrish recipes.

Sweepstakes details: Cook, Share and Win:

Cook one of the delicious recipes provided (or one of your own) and share a Nutrish product with your pet.

Share a pic of you and your pet enjoying mealtime using #ChefTails on Instagram or Twitter for a chance to win.

Win an all-expense paid trip to NYC where you can enjoy a day in the studio audience of the Rachael Ray Show.

Nutrish Chef Tails

Chicken and Rice Meatballs

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1 cup rice pilaf, cooled
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1/4 cup onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling


In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice with the ground chicken, onion, garlic, parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano and egg. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Flatten out the mixture in the bowl and score it into four portions using the side of your hand. Shape each portion into five balls — you should have 20 meatballs in total.

Arrange the meatballs on a nonstick sheet pan and drizzle them with EVOO. Place in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

This is one of many “Yum-o!” recipes – it’s good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael’s nonprofit organization, visit www.yum-o.org.


This recipe is made with simple, natural ingredients like yummy chicken meatballs plus tender carrots, spinach and pasta cooked in a tasty chicken broth. There are no meat by-products or fillers. And no corn, wheat or soy.

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For more info about #Cheftails, go HERE.
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Instagram: http://instagram.com/nutrish

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    1. And.. the best egg salad, right?? And the best coffee? Oh, that’s right! I didn’t make coffee. Oops. I’ll be even more advanced next tim you come.

  1. Sounds yum! I like little spicy meatballs, if they just weren’t such a pain to make i.e. lots of little ones = lots of frying in the pan. Now, these are made in the oven, maybe I’ll try that.

  2. Aw, I love the photos of your furbaby with the family. What a cute story how Cassidy surprised you all! My daughter fosters kittens…she loves animals. She did foster a dog last year but it ended up being a little too much work. LOL. The recipe sounds interesting!

  3. That dog’s smile, so cute! Definitely animals help us more than we help them at times. Great recipe! Our family loves meatballs. I love the addition of rice.

    1. Thanks! She was totally smiling in that photo.
      I never really thought of putting rice pilaf in meatballs before but it was a nice binding agent! And since I’m salmonella phobic and probably overcooked the meatballs, the cheese kept them moist! Saved by the bell.

  4. Aw! As you know, our doggy is also a rescue. While I haven’t made meatballs for him, I do make scrambled eggs a few mornings a week and share with him. (Eggs are good for their coats, and can help with itchy skin issues- which are common in Lhasas like my little guy.) Definitely gonna have to check out some of RR’s doggy food and have Toddy give it a taste test 🙂

    1. Yes, I love photos of your doggie! I haven’t made meatballs for mine either, but I did give her a piece of bacon once. Oops! Her eyes lit up!
      Scrambled eggs, huh? What an awesome idea!

  5. I unashamedly make food for my pets all of the time. Especially when they are sick, I make a little rice mixture. I know I am a sucker, but I am a happy one. Your poochie pal is the cutest and fits in nicely with your family! Thanks for letting me know about this great giveaway! A trip to NYC, never been. That would be exciting!!

    1. Yes! When Athena was last sick, we made her chicken and rice. And Cassidy makes bone broth for himself and occasionally puts some with Athena’s dry food.
      It’s good for them!
      Yes, she’s a great fit for this family. NYC is the city I grew up near, so I think I took it for granted. It’s quite special.

    1. I totally just made them for me! Is that selfish? Although the dog version looks so awesome. I’m loving what you said about being rescued in reverse too.
      I don’t feel that way about the cats as much, but they can be highly cuddly when they want to be.

        1. ha! I always hear that it depends on the cat. I’m bipolar with mine. Love them one minute and want them to sleep outside the next. Ah, pet ownership.

            1. Did I tell you that Athena ran away for THREE hours this morning and came home with a porcupine quill sticking out of her snout?
              Class. Act.

  6. I want to rescue a dog! I loved your story! I would totally bake cookies for our pup too before he went to heaven. And ironically meatballs. I need to try that food!

    1. We did get lucky! Although tell me that again because she ran away this morning and came home with a giant porcupine quill stuck in her snout. She did have the decency to look more ashamed than proud, though.

  7. <– also was unaware about people making food. I learn something new on this blog all the time!! I bet there is extra love in the per food made by the owners too 🙂

    1. haha! I was unaware of it too. Although we do make Athena chicken and rice if she’s really sick, which luckily has only happened once or twice.
      Extra love is right!

  8. Oh wow Tam go you and cooking!!!! I honestly hadn’t cooked chicken until this year too! I always just thought it was a lot harder then it actually was…..”lazy” xo

    1. haha! Lazy here too. Or just neurotic about salmonella.. even though for 34 years, I’ve let OTHER people cook chicken for me. I totally didn’t give anyone salmonella!

    1. And I have never cooked with non-ground chicken! That would really be more brave, I think. The ground stuff is sort of cheating a little.

    1. Believe it or not, lately I’ve been thinking that breadcrumbs are often NOT the best tasting ingredient. I think I thought that because my mom made mac and cheese without a breadcrumb layer and my kids loved it more than the usual breadcrumb layer.
      You can use any rice you want! Even non-grains too.

  9. Yummy looking meatballs. Athena is such a beautiful dog. You can tell how much she loves all of you! Animals can tell when they’ve been rescued and they always look so happy!

    1. She’s a very loving dog! My mom has the same theory that rescue animals are forever grateful. I sincerely hope so! We’re grateful too.

  10. I love the story of how Athena became a part of your family! I hear you on waiting to feed your pets healthy, nutritious food. We switched Leo’s dry food last year because the first ingredient before was corn. I’m sorry, cats aren’t meant to be eating corn!

    1. Yeah. Ew! Cats and corn. Not a great mix. I loved that you switched it out! As I’m writing this, Bella is hugging my hands. It makes for awkward typing.

  11. Oh your recipe looks absolutely delish and you know I’ve got to try it. I’m always on the hunt for new recipes to incorporate into our family mealtime so we’re not doing the same thing over and over. btw I just love how Athena has become such a huge part of the family, it’s as if she was never anywhere else. She truly belongs with you all and I’m so happy you were able to get her.

    1. I was so stunned that Scarlet liked the meatballs. She’s usually so picky! And you can customize them anyway you want it.
      Athena definitely belongs here!

  12. My sister-in-law frequently cooks for her dogs! They are well loved members of the family. My cat won’t eat anything but dry kibble. I used to buy him fancy stuff for Christmas or his birthday, but he never ate it!

    1. Ah, well at least the price is right! We used to buy fancier cat food but they didn’t really love it once they weren’t kittens anymore. So dry kibble it is!

  13. It always made sense to me that pets would get to have food as delicious as what we eat. On a side note, we were at a birthday party this weekend where the owner’s dog is fed only homemade food. I’ve never seen a dog so well behaved around table food before. I wonder if there’s a connection. Your “mutballs” look like something my kids would love, too!

    1. Mutballs! Love it!
      Interesting about the dog at the party. Do they make homemade dog food, or does the dog just eat homemade people food – whatever they’re eating?

      1. I think she makes food just for the dog. But what she told me is that the dog is so used to all the smells of food around the house that she doesn’t get into it. I know my parent’s dog would have been all over the buffet!

  14. My friends adopted greyhounds — the saddest dogs you ever did see. They are terrified of all the things but it’s not their fault. It’s because of how they were treated when they were used as race dogs. They got a good home though those spoiled two. AND they also get handmade food. 🙂
    Our asshole…ahem….loving fur baby was bought from a breeder. I call him that because he ate two socks again.

    1. I used to babysit for a family who adopted greyhounds. They were pretty terrified, the poor things! They were very loved, though. And spoiled!
      Two socks? Really??? What happens if he needs another $1,000,000 surgery?

  15. I kinda laughed about it because it sounds like I created my own chicken and then cooked it. All I did was buy ground chicken at a store!

  16. I love that you have that precious Athena in your family now!!! So… WAIT! You made those chicken balls? Oh wait- that sounds wrong. You made those chicken meatballs? You ROCK T!!! I’m thinking it’s a total win! That recipe looks DELICIOUS!!

    1. haha! Chicken balls!!
      Yes, I made them myself! My mom was going to help, which to me meant she’d make them and I’d photograph them, but she fell asleep. So I did them!

  17. Yeah, reading how you guys met Athena never gets old. I wish we could let our Juno off leash as much as you have Athena off! Juno ran away the other day when the gate wasn’t latched properly and we ended up getting a ticket from the cops! The nerve! :\ Aaaaanyway homemade food for dogs is awesome! The closest I get to that is scooping some peanut butter into her Kong ball 🙂

    1. You know, generally it’s ok but Athena has found a porcupine den and gets herself in trouble nearly daily! She puts her face in and gets quills stuck in her nose! And when she sticks her face in, she eats dirt. Sometimes it comes back up. Not cool!!
      So she probably deserves a ticket from the cops but we have four acres and no one can really find her!

      1. Ha…even more so that Athena, Apollo and the comment above me refers to Juno. All gods. Which is dog spelled backwards.

  18. I love when Rachel Ray shares her recipes for pups. My little guy (the furry one) gets spoiled with Mama’s cooking sometimes. Your meatballs sound, YUMMY!

  19. my mom made some of these natural dog biscuits, for my girls stuffed animal dogs and wolves! ha. they are completely edible for humans…. at least I hope so because I have not seen any around in awhile.

  20. I don’t eat or cook chicken, but I think this receipe would work with ground beef too. I actually plan on making beef meatballs with a mushroom sauce this week.

    1. It would definitely work with beef! I think that would be delicious. I usually eat beef meatballs over chicken, actually.

  21. I think the universe sent you a photogenic dog on purpose, too.

    I’d like to be in the house when those meatballs are made. I bet it smells incredible. I’d even get a car freshener in meatball scent if they had one.

    1. I think you’re right because no one mugs for the camera the way Athena does. She even puts on eyeliner for the honor!
      The meatballs did smell incredible, in fact. I wish we could send each other smell-o-grams. By phone. Wouldn’t that be cool? (or creepy?)

  22. Wow, I want those meatballs! Kudos to you! And yes, what a great love story with Athena. She seems to be really a dog for keeps.

  23. What a gorgeous dog! Almost all of our animals (we have 6) are rescues. Rescue dogs are great animals-they are so loving and happy to have a home!!

    1. My mom has this theory that rescue dogs know they were rescued and so they’re extra nice. I have to admit that my dog is extra sweet and loving.

  24. Your Husband did a great thing rescuing that Dog .. he looks so cute and happy in the family photo 🙂 I’m semi domestically challenged and the meatballs look so delicious and easy to make

    1. I am SO domestically challenged and I couldn’t believe this was my first time cooking meat.. ever. I thought my mom would help me (do it for me) but she was napping with my daughter so I had to step up.

  25. We rescued two dogs from abusive families. It’s a very rewarding feeling to be able to help a dog get back to its happy self.

  26. Thank you for taking care of your dog like this. I would love for all of the people in the world to adopt and make a pet part of their loving family.

  27. :[ This made me so sad. That recipe is very similar to one that I used to feed my 15 year old weiner dog who passed last September. She had hardly any teeth and was very picky, this recipe is amazing but now I miss her!

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