Gluten-Free Hot Dog Octopuses

April 19, 2013

Note from Elizabeth Barbone:

What a hard week this has been. What an understatement that is. News stories, from the tragedy in Boston to the accident in West, Texas to the flooding in Illinois, are reminders that sometimes life just hurts.

Last week, Elizabeth Carroll submitted this fun story on how to make gluten-free spaghetti octopuses.  It was supposed to run yesterday. But in the face of all the heaviness from the week, it didn't feel right to run it.

But then I thought about it.

This morning I again looked at the pictures Elizabeth submitted.  I noticed the adorable look of intense concentration on her son's face as he built a Lego ship. (read her story to understand this.) I saw how cute the hot dog octopuses floating in the water were. And I smiled.

So I'm sharing the piece today. Maybe it will make you smile. Maybe you'll giggle over the culinary silliness of hot dogs poked through with pieces of spaghetti. Maybe you'll think they're not your thing and laugh anyway.

Maybe it'll distract you for a minute. I hope so. Because witnessing pain, whether of our own loved ones or strangers, drains us. And it's ok to take a break. It's ok to smile; it's ok to turn away from Twitter for a little while---to make hot dog octopuses or a chicken dinner or to just take a deep breath.

As we head into the weekend, take care of yourself and be kind to people--goodness knows, the world needs it.

Elizabeth Barbone

Gluten-Free Octopus Spaghetti

Elizabeth Carroll

Elizabeth Barbone posted a picture of octopus spaghetti a while back and I thought it was a cute idea that my kids would enjoy. The idea is to slice a hot dog and insert uncooked spaghetti into the hot dog segment. Cook pasta and hot dog and serve -- it looks like an octopus!  I decided to give it a try, but first a little background:

I am not a Pinterest girl. Sure, I have an account. But whenever I look, I feel overwhelmed and intimidated -- do people really spend this much time and effort on things? And then take pictures and post? 

Next, we are so busy at our house, that my approach to dinner is, “If its Monday, its chicken” and so forth. So my children were surprised, to say the least, of my attempt at something so creative. Here were their initial reactions:

Five year old:  “Gross!  I am not eating an octopus!” (I explained and he still thought it was gross.  By way of background, we visited my hometown of Rochester, NY a few months back and I had to take my children to see Wegman's -- the best grocery store of all time. In the fresh seafood department, my five year old did see an octopus and this image really stuck in his mind, apparently).  

Ten year old:  “That's interesting. What made you decide to do that, Mom?”

Twelve year old:  “I am not eating that!”  

Here are the steps I took to make my octopus spaghetti. And, for the record, mine was not a “octo”pus, but a “quadro”pus. I just could not take the time to insert 8 spaghetti pieces into each little hot dog, four was enough!


Slice gluten-free hot dog into 1 ½ inch pieces.


Help five year old build lego ship.  


Gently insert four sticks of gluten-free spaghetti into each slice of hot dog. Boil and salt water.

Fold laundry.

Cook hot dog with spaghetti until done.  


>Gently remove finished octopus spaghetti from pot.

The reviews? The five year old would not try it. He ate the hot dogs and spaghetti separately, but not as an octopus. The ten year old is very agreeable and she liked it. The twelve year old said, “This is actually really good!” So, this would go on the list of a dinner that most would like -- success!  


About the author:

Elizabeth Carroll is a wife and mother of three living in the suburbs of Chicago.  She has been preparing gluten-free foods for her family, two of whom are eat exclusively gluten-free, since 2004.  Before staying home with her children, she worked in human resources consulting.    


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