The Ultimate Spinach Smoothie

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer.  A friend recently told me about a fantastic smoothie recipe that contained spinach as the main ingredient.  Wow…what a clever…and healthy idea!
Smoothie IngredientsI had to get the scoop on this as I’m always looking for something new and healthy for my kids to try.  Tried it out myself and it is very, very good!

Making Smoothie

Very simple to make.


1 handful of baby spinach
1 whole pear (skin on)
1 whole banana
5 red grapes
About a tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger
2 Basil leaves
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice

Of course, with something like this, you can get very creative and add all sorts of ingredients.

My kids and their friends would never drink a smoothie knowing it contained spinach, so I made it and kept the main ingredient a secret. We filmed a short video of our experience. They loved it then had quite an amusing reaction once they learned what was in it. View our video!

Have a look at their reaction after their first taste!

Taste testers

The final product. Enjoy!

Be sure and check out for more recipes and videos. Also, Produce For Kids is an excellent organization that promotes healthy eating for families and raises funds for children’s non-profit organizations! PFK sponsored our groceries for use in the video.

The Spinach Smoothie Finished Product

Spatula Dad’s Zombie Baked Kale Chips

We have alot of fun making baked kale chips. And being the Fall season with great weather in Central Texas, we celebrated by making a short video of our culinary adventure.  If you’re a fan of the hit tv show, The Walking Dead, you’ll love our take on turning walkers (zombies) into humans….by eating baked kale chips!  You can watch our video>>HERE.

Kale is so beneficial and absolutely loaded with nutrients, including Vitamins K, A & C, antioxidants, fiber and all kinds of great stuff with many syllables and words I can’t pronounce.

The baked kale chips are simple to make and my kids love it. “Amazing” and “awesome” are their usual responses. Baked kale chips are a great replacement for fried potato chips and they taste great!

Here’s all you need:

One bunch of fresh kale leaves. Get the flat-leaf type, known as Dino kale. (The curly kind is good, too but it’s easier to make kale chips with the flat variety.)

Olive oil and Spike seasoning.  Spike seasoning has been around a long time.  It remains one of my favorite seasonings for almost everything.

Preheat your oven on Bake at 275 degrees.  Drizzle a small amount of oil into a large bowl. Spread the oil around the sides of the bowl with your fingers.

Sprinkle some spike seasoning over the olive oil, then take your kale
leaves and slide them around the bowl.  Make sure you get both sides of the leaves coated with olive oil. Coat each side entirely. (No dry spots).

Then lay the coated kale leaves on parchment paper (helps soak up the olive oil and makes for easier cleanup) and place on a cookie sheet. Place it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.  Soon you’ll have Baked kale chips and everybody will be healthy and human again!

Spatula Dad Challenge
: Send us a picture or a short video of your baked kale chips and post it at one of our social networking sites: here on our blog, the Spatula Dad Facebook page, Tweet it at us with the hashtag #LiveItLoveItEatIt, or Pin It….doesn’t matter which…and we’ll send you a gift in the mail!

Just click on the photo below to view our video on YouTube………Happy Cooking!


Zombie Fingers Sugar Cookies

Hey this is really easy and alot of fun to do with your kids this time of year.  Make some Zombie Fingers cookies.

All you need:

Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
Almond slivers
Cocoa powder

Cut off about a 1-inch thick slice of the dough, roll it out flat then shape it in to the form of a finger.

Using a toothpick (and you’re own finger as a guide), gently carve some nuckles and wrinkles into your sugar cookie finger.



Place an almond sliver as a fingernail, then lightly dust your sugar cookie/zombie finger with cocoa powder.  Brush it around to make it look real.

Bake per the directions on the package!
Enjoy your zombie finger cookies!

Happy cooking!






Born To Run In The Rain (and a Chicago Dog, too.)

Rock music, like baseball, is a simple game.  Uniquely American, both pastimes thrive on fan participation owing to the promise of immediate satisfaction.  There are some basic rules for each, but after that, it’s all subjective.  Play three chords from start to finish or run 3 bases around a diamond-shaped infield.  Your choice. Touch all three, make it home and you score.

Bruce Springsteen brought his game to Wrigley Field last weekend.  He scored.  Two sold out shows that are henceforth known in Twitterspeak as #Wrigley1 and #Wrigley2.  

He hit it out of the nearly century-old ballpark Saturday night, over the arms of 45,000 greying, balding fans (many with their kids), over the roof parties, beyond the fans loitering in the neighborhood and probably (just for fun) cracking a window on a downtown skyscraper as his home run blowtorched it’s way into the chilly depths of Lake Michigan.  No doubt the Friday night show was a barnburner, but Saturday night was different, playing 14 songs not heard the night before.  And two hours in…the rains came.

Our group headed to the ballpark early on Saturday.  The pre-Springsteen concert meal would definitely be at Wrigley and it would be a Chicago Dog. Vienna Beef is the hot dog vendor for Wrigley Field and they don’t disappoint.  Served on a plain or poppy seed bun provided locally by the Gonnela Baking Co., the franks come in two choices: all beef for $6.00 or a High Plains Bison Dog “The Chicago Cubs Official Lean Meat” for $6.50.

This was not a lean night.  Knowing my fitness trainer would laugh at me regardless, I chose the all beef dog with the poppy seed bun and bought it from a kiosk in the clubhouse just as guest  Tom Morello joined Bruce for an angry version of Death To My Hometown.  Hearing the searing guitar solos from inside the clubhouse, I had to get back to my general admission standing area in front of the stage. The nice girl at the kiosk could see the urgent look on my face. She hurried, giving me an extra spoonful of sautéed onions.  I dressed the Chicago dog with every condiment available…red peppers, fresh tomatoes and a radiant neon green relish.  I don’t want to know what makes that relish glow, but it’s good. These folks know how to make a great hot dog.  A cold Old Style draft beer complimented my ballpark staple.  It hit the spot. Chicagoans love their draft beer and I love them for that.

Chicago dog and beer in hand I made my way back to the front of the stage just as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder took the stage for a heartfelt duet on My Hometown followed by Vedder stealing the spotlight (at Bruce’s invitation) and remaking Darkness On The Edge Of Town into his own anthem.  Spectacular.  Beautiful.

The Atlantic Magazine’s Jeff Goldberg recently wrote, “if the E Street Band at full throttle doesn’t fill you with joy, you’re probably dead.”  He’s right.  Springsteen doesn’t disappoint, in fact, he’s never disappointed.  With charisma to burn, the musician shows no signs of stopping. He has the physical stamina and fitness of a Cirque du Soleil performer. Backward body bends over a bolted steel mic stand are his yoga.  The voice and flashy musicianship remain solid and energetic.  New, young band members compliment the remaining, founding core of the band. What is it after 40 years of playing rock music that makes the 62-year old New Jersey icon kill it on a beautiful Saturday evening at Wrigley Field in 2012?  I’ve no idea and it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing left for him to do except play the game and entertain…and make a nice paycheck doing so.

When the rain (actually a downpour) began two hours into an already high energy show there was a brief ‘oh crap’ moment. Didn’t last long. No one really headed for the exits.  Fueled by beer suds, the audience relished in it. Springsteen surveyed the faithful crowd. He seemed pleased.  The rain was a surprise twist that rallied the singer. Whatever set list there once was had washed away.
With a wry smile and drenched Telecaster in hand, he said, “The rain feels good. Treat it like a benediction” and immediately launched into a grand slam of visceral nuggets from the vast Springsteen canon, beginning with a blistering version of Badlands followed by Thunder Road, the hip hop-infused Rocky Ground and a final crushing 5 pack of Born To Run, Rosalita, Dancing In The Dark, Tenth Ave. Freeze-Out and the Irish-tinged American Land. Frequent trips to the extended riser out in the audience left water pouring off the guy.  At one point he grabbed a beer from someone in the audience and chugged it. I hope it was the Old Style draft.  As he played Rosalita’s frenzied guitar lead on his back in a pool of water, I thought, wow that guitar will need new strings and electronics before the next show.  (This is a road guitar. The famous Fender Esquire of Springsteen lore has presumably been retired.)  Or perhaps like when a hitter breaks a bat, he just grabs another one.  Mr. Springsteen has other bats. He played extra innings until the audience was satisfied. He made it to home plate. His batting average remains perfect.  It’s a simple game.

Click here for a brief video of Born To Run in the rain.






Oh Boy Chicken!

Week 4 of the HEB Meal Maker Challenge and boy do we have a good one. This week’s featured ingredient is Chef Boyardee. We made a tasty high protein, low fat dish using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lemon juice, spinach and of course, Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.

Fun part of making this dish is that I conscripted my 13-year old son to do the work and he did a great job!
We made a video of our challenge entree and posted it here.

It’s a very simple dish, easy to make and quite affordable.  Please vote for our recipe>>VOTE.

Here are the details:

Boy Oh Chicken
1 15 oz. can Chef Boyardee Beefaroni
1 cup canned diced tomatoes (drained)
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
2 cups shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Juice from 2 lemons
3 teaspoons ground paprika

Preheat oven to Broil.

Place the chicken breasts into an oven-safe broiler pan and coat with lemon juice.  Make sure you coat both sides of the breasts with lemon juice.  Let sit for 5 minutes then coat both sides of the chicken with the paprika and some fresh ground pepper.

Pour the can of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni into a food processor or blender and puree for 10 seconds.  Add the pureed Beefaroni and diced tomatoes to small sauce pan, cover and set to simmer on the stove.

Place the chicken breasts on the oven’s top rack.  Broil for 3 1/2 minutes then carefully remove from the oven and turn the breasts over. Cook for another 3 minutes.  Turn off the oven.

Remove the chicken from the oven, leaving the chicken in the broiling pan, add a layer of fresh baby spinach to the top of each breast.  Be generous because spinach is good for you!  The spread the shredded mozzarella over the spinach and return to the oven for 2 minutes to melt the cheese over the spinach.  (The oven will remain very hot).
Remove from oven and spoon the warmed Chef Boyardee Beefaroni and tomatoes mixture over the melted mozzarella cheese on your chicken breasts. Serve immediately on top of your leftover spinach. Enjoy!

FYI….I have received compensation/products from H-E-B and ConAgra. They got the groceries!  It’s our recipe!

Note: Any compensation or prize money I receive goes to Austin’s Meals On Wheels and More! 


TCB Elvis Pancakes

TCB: Takin Care of Business in a flash!….that was Elvis Presley’s mantra and we are doing it right here in Week 3 of the H-E-B Meal Maker Challenge which presents Peter Pan Peanut Butter as the featured ingredient.

Oh how you can have some fun with peanut butter and bananas!  The cuisine folklore surrounding the biggest pop star of the 20th Century always seems to circle back to Elvis’ fondness for peanut butter, bananas and bacon.  Rumor has it that Elvis and some friends were so craving a special peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich one night that he summoned his pilots and flew in his private, converted airliner, the Lisa Marie, to Denver for a late night snack where they dined on the sandwiches then flew right back to Memphis.
Well we’re not living that large in this week’s Meal Maker Challenge but we’re making some excellent wholesome pancakes….The TCB ELVIS PANCAKES.  And as an added bonus…here’s a link to the Graceland mansion live webcam so you can check out Elvis’ house while making our pancakes!
Please vote for our recipe here>>VOTE.

TCB Elvis Pancakes

1/2 Cup Peter Pan Peanut Butter
1 ripe Banana (Mashed)
1 Egg
1 1/2 Cups 2% milk
1 Cup whole wheat flour
2 Teaspoons baking powder


Heat griddle or frying pan over medium heat.  Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl.  Mix together with a fork.

Heat the peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds or until it stirs easily.

Add the egg to the flour and baking powder mixture.  Whisk for 30 seconds then add 1/2 cup of milk and whisk until mixed.  Stir in peanut butter and remaining 1 cup of milk then add the mashed banana and mix well.  The batter is now ready.

The griddle or frying pan is ready when water droplets bead and sizzle.

Pour batter onto the pan to form your pancake.  When bubbles form on the top of the pancake (about 2-3 minutes) it’s time to flip, or as Elvis would say, “Flippy, real flippy.”  Cook on the other side for about one minute.  Serve immediately with maple syrup and of course…bacon.  Enjoy!

P.S….HEB and Conagra Foods have provided me with compensation and products for the HEB Meal Maker Challenge. The recipes are mine.  Any compensation I receive goes to Austin’s Meals On Wheels and More.  So please vote for us!



Also for your reference, below is the recipe for the Elvis peanut butter and bacon sandwich…

Frank’s Spaghetti On-A-String

It’s week 2 of the HEB Meal Maker Challenge and this week’s featured ingredient is one of my all-time favorites…Hebrew National Franks.  Oh how I love a good hot dog and this easy dish we’ve named Frank’s Spaghetti On-A-String is sure to please the entire family with wholesome goodness!

There’s also plenty of opportunity for family involvement.  My kids were stumped when I started slicing perfectly good hot dogs. But they figured it out pretty quickly!

The competition in this contest is strong and we could really use the votes. You can vote as often as you wish (once per day). So have a look at our recipe and the video we made of our creation and vote for us here>>VOTE.

Frank’s Spaghetti On-A-String

1 Package Hebrew National Franks (All Beef)
8 oz. dried spaghetti
1 jar of pasta sauce (we like HEB’s Garlic & Herb Pasta Sauce)
2 cups frozen sweet peas

Check out our interview with my taste-testers on our YouTube video.

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a pasta pot.  Pour a generous amount of the pasta sauce into a separate, small sauce pan and set to simmer.

Cut the franks into 1/2 in. thick slices. (6 hot dogs should yield about 30-40 slices).
Thread a single strand of dried spaghetti through 3-4 hot dog pieces. Continue until all hot dog pieces are threaded.
Note: Not all the spaghetti strands will be lucky enough to have a hot dog piece.

Add all 8 oz. of the spaghetti, including the strands with the hot dog pieces and cook per instructions on the box…usually about 9 minutes.  Two minutes before finishing add the frozen peas to the boiling pasta and franks.

When done, carefully drain all the water through a colander and return your spaghetti and pasta to the now empty pot on the stove.  Add the warm pasta sauce (to taste) and gently stir with a wooden spoon.

Serve immediately.  Add some grated parmesan cheese for additional flavor. Carrots with ranch dip is great to serve as a side dish.  

PS.  I receive products/compensation from HEB & ConAgra.  The recipe is ours and we think you’ll really like it!

Bring It On! Oven-Baked Frittata

Competition in the HEB Meal Maker Challenge begins NOW! Looking forward to making some cool dishes.  The goal is to make a family-friendly meal in under 30 minutes with 7 ingredients or less.  I’m competing with 9 other excellent food bloggers and you get to vote for your favorite recipes.  Try out the dish, then PLEASE vote for me here >> VOTE.

Full disclosure: The kind folks at HEB & ConAgra have provided products and compensation to me so I can participate in this challenge. The recipes are my own. Best of all…any compensation I receive will be donated to Meals On Wheels And More.

I’ll be featuring 4 dishes over the next 4 weeks. Each week we use a tasty ingredient provided by HEB and ConAgra.

This week’s featured ingredient is Egg Beaters and we cooked up a good one.  A very tasty Oven-Baked Frittata.  Taste-tested by the ultimate judges:  Kids.  It got an A+.  Everybody loves it and it’s a great dish for any time of day (my family had it for dinner!)  Best of all it’s easy to make.

Here’s how you do it:


1 Single Serve 4 -oz cup Egg Beaters
2 Eggs
8 oz. boneless ham steak (Diced into 1/4 inch pieces)
1 cup 2% shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh chives – diced
2/3 cup Half & Half

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Apply non-stick cooking spray to 9-inch oven safe pie dish.

Place the diced ham chunks into the bottom of the dish then place shredded cheese over the ham.  Next, add the chives.

Whisk the Egg Beaters and eggs for one minute. Add the Half & Half and whisk for an additional 30 seconds.

Pour egg mixture over the ham, cheese and chives. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife in center of the frittata and remove. The blade should be moist but not dripping wet.  If it’s wet, bake for another 3 minutes.

Cut the pie into wedges and serve immediately.  Accompany with French baguette and apple slices.  Total prep time: 5 minutes.  Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Tasty. Hope you like it. We sure did!

H-E-B Meal Maker Challenge!


The games and tasty dishes will soon begin with the HEB Meal Maker Challenge. Thrilled to be a part of this great contest with some outstanding competition!

Look for new posts, videos, photos beginning the first week of August. Each week, the fine folks at HEB & ConAgra foods will offer up a featured ingredient.  I get to make a tasty, quick meal using the featured item with 7 ingredients or less. YOU get to vote by visiting the HEB Meal Maker Challenge microsite (Coming soon)!

Top two vote getters meet for a live cook-off at HEB in San Antonio.

Friendly note: H-E-B and ConAgra foods are providing products and are compensating all competitors, including me, to participate in this great contest.