Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spaghetti and Hot Dog Octopuses

My sister came to visit this last week. She put on her superman cape and flew to Florida solo with her three boys. The twins are age 5, and the baby is 11 months. They arrived in one piece sporting smiley faces and ready for adventure.

We had a BLAST!  I had come to forget how curious and enthusiastic little boys are about everything going on around them. Explore, build, question, help, they love to do it all! One of the many things the twins love to do is help in the kitchen.  I couldn't wait for the the boys to visit so I would have a good excuse to make this dish.

After a long day at the beach collecting shells and swimming, we spent the evening organizing and sorting the shells and also making shell necklaces. We then talked about the creatures of the ocean. To my delight I discovered they already new quite a bit about Octopuses so we cut right to the chase with the dinner project.

When I explained we were going to make "ocean food",  eyes grew big and voices loud. They were so excited to create their own meal. Still in their swim trunks with bare feet, I plopped each little man up on the kitchen island with a cutting board, plastic knife and their own hot dog. I know, I know, bare feet and little bums up on the counter top, with children's hands mangling Saturdays fare does not appeal to all.  Though most of you, have probably found, that when the little people are close to you it doesn't really matter.  You wind up eat it anyway because it has been made with love.

I demonstrated how to slice the hot dog into many octopus bodies. Once that was mastered, they learned how to poke the spaghetti threw the bodies to make legs. They were so proud of their creations, periodically holding them up and shouting. "Look Auntie Kaela! Look!"

The teacher came out in me and I had to explain how 4 pieces of spaghetti would make 8 legs. We continued to count each finished octopus for the correct amount of legs before putting it in the water. Of course we had to make a few silly ones too with too many legs:) I always love how eager young children are to learn.

Beach this was ocean food, we also added some shells in the water so we could eat octopus and shells both. The boys gobbled these creatures right up, and had so much fun making them that they requested to make them again the next we did:)

I love that children can be creative with this recipe, and play with their food a little. The boys had so much fun and loved gobbling them up too.

Picky eater in the house? Check! What kid doesn't like hot dogs and pasta?!?!?

Stretching the monthly grocery budget? Check! Grab a $1.50 pack of dogs and a box of spaghetti for a little under $2.00. This could easily make 6-8 days of kid lunches. (or more)

Need to sneakily polish your kid's math skills? Measure body size, and leg length with the ruler, count the legs, subtract legs as you eat, multiply how many legs - 5 Octopuses x 8 Legs = 40 legs

Need a Halloween project? Check! Call them Spiders instead of Octopuses!

Mixing playtime with lunch? - These are fun! Let your kid play with his or her food!! Why not?:)

Sorry - I could not help but share a TON of pictures from both days we made them. It was just too much fun!
 Making the bodies.
(I can just hear their little voices)

 Poking the legs in.
(Younger children may need to be shown that holding the spaghetti toward the base rather than the far end works better when poking it in the dog.)

 Who ever said kids can't play with their food.....

 Especially when it's this fun!!

  It is so squiggly!!!

 So proud:)

 Hard at work making the legs.

 Look at this!!! Creepy!!!

 Final Product  - The platter of Octopuses and Seashells

Spaghetti and Hotdog Octopus!!

Package of Hot dogs
Box of Spaghetti

Cut Hot dogs in pieces
Poke 4 uncooked spaghetti strands halfway through each hot dog piece
Place in  boiling water and cook according to directions on spaghetti box.

-I used 100%Whole Wheat Thin spaghetti and it said to cook 7 minutes, as did the shells I threw in there. All cooked for 7 minutes resulting in yummy "seashells" and "octopuses" for lunch.
-We dressed the octopuses and shells with butter and Parmesan with a side of ketchup to dip because that is how my nephews like their noodles.


  1. I just made these for Tablespoon last week. My kids thought they were pretty cool...and so did I. We called them Spider Dogs though:)

  2. Oh Funny! Too Cute! They were so fun! The Boys Loved them!

    I found them in a little kids cookbook in the dollar section in Target. I will have to send you the other ideas I found there. Your Boys may enjoy:)