How many times as children growing up did our collective parents tell us “don’t play with your food!” If you lived in my hot_dogs_boiled_with_dried_pasta_delectabellehousehold, this was a nightly ritual, as my brother and I would shift the contents of our plates to create a masterpiece of art, when our Mom would have preferred we were creating a clean dish.

While my plate always resembled artistry more of the deformed Picasso years, my brother was far more talented. He used to spend at least a half an hour on hamburger night using the nozzle of the Heinz 57 ketchup bottle as his paint brush, and his medium-rare beef patty as his canvas. He would ever so gently arrange the half-sour pickle slices with a flourish, adding pizzazz to his design until his meal was undoubtedly ice cold. This was no matter to him, as long as it looked good as it went down the chute.

If you don’t believe me, look at the poignant scene he created for his breakfast a few months back. Some things just never change….


My brother's idea of "eating" breakfast.

Anywhoo, the impetus for this post was a playful little idea passed on to me from my friend Michael.As the father of two little ones, he is well versed in making dinner time a fun adventure, and he tuned me into the dreaded boiled hot dog spider. Ok, not quite as menacing as it sounds. This is such a cute and easy idea if you have little tater tots sitting at your table that are more apt to eat if they can make a game of it.

The idea is simple. Chop hot dogs into bite sized chunks, insert dried pasta to the design of your liking, and boil for about 7 minutes. Once the pasta softens, these little guys take shape as spiders. Think hot dog bites, vermicelli legs. Kids will have fun eating these, or perhaps eventually just whirling them around over their heads by the legs once they have hit their limit on dinner. Either way, give it a try, life’s to short not to whirl some food once and a while.


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