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Fun Food: Hot Dog Octopi and Macaroni and Cheese

Categories: Food, Lunches



Aren’t they cute? I like to call them Hot-opuses. Which is also a cute name. Isn’t it?

Unless you have a three year old who butchers the pronunciation of things. Because then he will be shouting, “I wuv hot pu$$ies” the entire time you are eating dinner. And while it is very funny, you really don’t want to have to explain to the rest of your children why you are laughing. Trust me.
This is a very simple recipe. You will need:


2 lbs of shell pasta
1 1/3 cups of milk
1/2 cup butter
16 oz mild cheddar cheese
16 oz of sharp cheddar

You can use whatever kind of cheese you like. I picked these two cheeses because they are mild and my children like them.
Salt, to taste
Hot dogs

This feeds 10 people. If you have less than ten people to feed. Half the recipe


You want to grate your cheese so that it will melt easily. I have this antique cheese grater that I love. As I use it I like to think about the people who used it before I found it. What were they making? Did they grate the skin off of their knuckles like I frequently do? Did they say, “Mmmm, extra flavor!” like I do? Did they happily cast it aside when more modern inventions came along and made the task easier?

Using the grater is a lot of work. You may even need a snack to help you get through it.


And as always many hands make light work.


Of course you could buy your cheese already grated at the store. But then what will you do with yourself while your pasta is boiling away?

Next you want to grease your casserole dish with your butter. Really slather it on. Neatness does not count in this particular step of the recipe. That will come later.


Toss the rest of the stick of butter into the pot with your already cooked and drained pasta shells. Stir it up so that it melts and coats the pasta.


Next add your grated cheese.


A little at a time so that you can stir it up evenly.


Pour it all into your casserole dish.


Measure out your 1 1/3 cup of milk.


Pour it all over the pasta. Cover with aluminum foil and put into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. If you would like the macaroni on the top to get crunchy, remove the aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. My children do not like the crunchy pasta.

Ten minutes before the macaroni is done, prep the hot dogs.


You want to cut the eight “legs” before you boil them. Hold the hot dog and about one inch from the top of the hot dog slice in half lengthwise. Turn the hot dog a quarter turn and repeat the process. Now is the time for your perfectionist qualities to come out. Each of those four individual legs needs to be cut in half. Because octopi have 8 legs.

My husband said, “Isn’t four enough?” and then proceeded to chop one of the legs off by mistake. So I had to take over the leg cutting lest we have a whole slew of octopus amputees.

You can feel good about feeding your children hot dogs when you prepare them this way. Something about the length of time it takes you to prepare food makes it instantly more nutritious. No really. I swear.


Then put them in your shallow pan of water to cook. They do look like weird octopi now don’t they?


The “legs” will curl up. My 3 year old son saw them at this point and yelled, “They are holding hands!”


Remove macaroni from oven. You will want to scoop it into the bowl and set the hot-opus in top. If I had peas I would have added some to the top of the bowl at this point. But I didn’t.

Add eyes to the hot-opus with mustard or ketchup.


And so we have the perfect kid friendly meal, with nary a vegetable to be found.

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26 comments so far...

  • You make it so artsy!! I’ve made hot dogs and mac-n-cheese as a quickie dinner for years but yours is so much…CUTER!
    I usually just slice up the hot dogs and boil them with the pasta…going to see if my boys prefer eating octopi :P

    Nikki  |  February 12th, 2008 at 6:32 pm

  • Thanks for sharing this! My daughter (8 yrs old) loves to help cook and this looks like a great recipe for her to help with.

    Jenni  |  February 12th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

  • My mother used to make octopi when we were small as well. I’ll never forget when my older brothers (probably 9 or 10 at the time) had a slumber party, and one of their friends refused to come downstairs to eat because he honestly thought she was serving real octopus.
    Ahh… fond memories of therapy bills in the making.

    Katrina  |  February 12th, 2008 at 7:03 pm

  • Please tell me the kids usually get a salad or some veggies. This is just quick supper night, right? Carrots and dip?

    Chris says: Vegetables? What are those?

    Kathleen  |  February 12th, 2008 at 7:23 pm

  • My daughter says I am being a pain.(see my first comment) It is easy once the kids are grown to be perfect. I do love the Hot Octopi and will make it for my grands. Thanks

    Kathleen  |  February 12th, 2008 at 7:31 pm

  • i remember seeing some device on one of those kitchen gadget shows that ‘automatically’ cuts the legs for you! wonder if kids who love the hotdog version would love real squid/octipi?

    Chris says: Wow, there is a gadget for everything, huh?

    kate  |  February 12th, 2008 at 7:36 pm

  • heh you can find anything with google:

    kate  |  February 12th, 2008 at 7:43 pm

  • Yikes Chris!
    Those are some mighty small holes in that grater. Are you sure that it isn’t a citrus zester? I also have “antique” graters. The ones that I LOVE are called the WONDER GRATER (or sometimes called the Super grater) and came in a set of three different graters each with different sized holes. You sometimes can find them on EBAY. If you ever see them BUY THEM!

    Janet  |  February 12th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

  • This is great! I can’t wait to try it on my nephews!

    Ashley  |  February 12th, 2008 at 8:43 pm

  • My almost two year old son runs around saying stuff about Pu$$ies too. Except he is talking about Percy, from Thomas. I love Pu$$y! I kiss Pu$$y! I touch Pu$$y! Especially cute when there is company.

    lora  |  February 12th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

  • This is really an adorable idea, I will definitely try it…but am I the only one who thinks the best part of all is the comment by your 3 y.o.??? “I love hot pu$$ie$?!?!?!” I made my husband read this and he almost shot soda out his nose he laughed so hard! Hysterical!

    Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck  |  February 13th, 2008 at 12:09 am

  • I’ve made those for my girls too. I blogged about them once too. You might be amused to hear what they’re called in my all girl household…

    dangitAnge  |  February 13th, 2008 at 12:55 am

  • What did the girl hot-upus say to the boy hot-upus?

    I wanna hold your hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand.

    Chris says: You know I am totally stealing that joke now.

    nrbp  |  February 13th, 2008 at 1:28 am

  • woah! I’ve never seen anything like those before! totally making them.

    crockpot lady  |  February 13th, 2008 at 2:38 am

  • Heh, I’m all impressed by not having to cook butter and flour in a pan, slowly adding milk and cheese to make a thick cheesy sauce. Usually such a pain that I don’t make mac n’ cheese! I’ll be trying your method SOON.

    Brigitte  |  February 13th, 2008 at 1:31 pm

  • [...] the recipe and funny commentary, here. And if you are not capable of cutting the hot-opus legs without harming yourself… just buy [...]

    Jennifer Smith - parenting family and kids blog - Austin Ben Connor » Kid’s Meal - - Albany NY  |  February 13th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

  • You’re in good company Chris: they actually serve this at all the fancy restaurants in Disneyland. Well, they serve it off the under 12 menu.
    What rides do you have at your house? Maybe we’ll plan a vacation there.

    Chris says: We feature snow shoveling, stripping (the wood kind), painting (the wall kind), and the ever popular vacuuming. Yes, I know. The excitement is almost too much.

    Nancy  |  February 13th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

  • I LOVE IT! I will be making this at our house tonight. Cheesy macaroni and octopodes!

    Thanks for the recipe!

    Liz  |  February 13th, 2008 at 3:24 pm

  • is there a gluten & dairy-free way to make this? or would rice noodles, soy cheese and soy milk with a weird g & d free hot dog just make it awful?

    Chris says: I am sure that there is. Since I am the only one gluten free and dairy free in my family I have never made it that way. I hate hot dogs and soy cheeses so I am not the person to ask. Sorry.

    josy  |  February 13th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

  • Chris,
    I am a loyal reader of Notes from the trenches site! I followed you here…I really had to take a minute and tell you, my husband and I after 25yrs. of marriage remain childless:(
    However, if I could have been a mommie, I would like to think, I could have been like you! Your children are VERY fortunate! Thanks for sharing your children..A big fan.

    Amy  |  February 13th, 2008 at 7:00 pm

  • I LOVE hotdog octopi!

    I came across these when I was putting together a Finding Nemo themed birthday party for my then 2 y/o. Never thought of putting them on shells ‘n cheese. Even better!

    Wicked Stepmom  |  February 13th, 2008 at 7:02 pm

  • This is fantastic! You are so funny!

    Diane  |  February 14th, 2008 at 2:27 am

  • I’m an avid reader from your other blog and I love looking at your recipes. One day I hope to make one:) I just had to let you know that I laughed outloud and thanked God that my husband and son were asleep b/c your posting was that funny:)

    Mishel  |  February 14th, 2008 at 4:42 am

  • The kids are making this tonight for Valentines. They voted down fried oysters in favor of octopi. Bill and I are having grilled ribeye.

    Happy Valentines Day!

    jody  |  February 14th, 2008 at 11:09 pm

  • it was a hit with our boys and girl alike!


    I am sure it will even be a grandchild favorite one day :)

    usafinks  |  February 19th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

  • We made spider dogs all the time in my family. Cut 4 legs on each side, leaving about 1-2″ in the middle whole. Roast over camp fire or under broiler, the legs really curl up and they get slightly crispy. YUM.

    My sister laughs at me because I’m 28 and it’s still my favorite way to have a hot dog.

    Rowan  |  February 20th, 2008 at 7:09 am