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Saturday
Oct152011

Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip

Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip

The last week has been a study in the long-term effects of sleep deprivation. The truth is, after two solid months of waking up at five am every morning to get myself to work, I can't adjust to going to bed earlier. I average between five and five and a half hours of sleep every night and there's no one to blame but myself.

Trust me, I've already tried placing the blame on everything else.

I read a study recently that claimed women who consistency got less than six hours of sleep a night have the mental and physical capacity of a drunk person. I initially thought this claim was very bold. Are they operating less than 100%? I'd absolutely agree. But drunk? I'm not so sure about that.

Well, not until I started noticing the signs on myself.

Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip

It started with forgetfulness. I'd sit down to write out my to-do list for the day, knowing it was going to be endless, and suddenly not be able to remember what was supposed to be on it. I'd scribble down a couple items, but most of it had simply disappeared from my memory box of a brain. Luckily, I'd gradually remember things as the day went on, but rarely was a pen and paper handy and the tasks were lost in my head once again.

Then the forgetfulness turned into very real short term memory loss. Truth be told, I now find myself with the memory span less than a goldfish. It stands at roughly three seconds, if I'm lucky. Don't believe me? Let me give you a couple examples.

I was working in the Patisserie and needed both sprinkles and a cake board to finish the cake I was working on. The sprinkles were exactly ten steps away. Since I already knew I had forgetfulness issues, I reminded myself three times that I was going to grab the sprinkles and pick up the cake board on the way back. Three times. Ten steps. I could do this.

I couldn't. I forgot the cake board. In fact, it was so bad that I stood in front of the unfinished cake for a few seconds before I even remembered what needed to be finished. I went back for the cake board with a proverbial tail between my legs.

As for the second example? Well, I've already forgotten. How's that for memory loss?

Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip

It wasn't until the last week that I began to notice the physical side effects. I went apple picking with my family at my grandmother's house. Most of the apples had already been picked, but the highest ones in the tree still remained. My father braved the ladder and, as soon as he'd get a handful, he'd toss them down to me so I could place them in the boxes. It was a good system, in theory. In reality, I couldn't catch an apple to save my life. My body knew the task, but my motor skills had slowed down so drastically it was impossible for me to catch any of them. It would have been comedic had I not been so concerned for myself.

Now I have several boxes of bruised apples. The only good to come out of this is that I will now be doing a lot of apple baking which I will, of course, share with you.

So, sleep. It's important. Maybe even more important than you (or I) ever gave it credit for. This next week, I'm going to force myself into bed at a decent hour. The sleeplessness (and drunkenness) needs to stop. I want to be able to walk through the grocery store without running into shelves and people or forgetting my entire list the moment I walk through the automatic doors.

Let's eat some of this pumpkin dip and get a full eight hours tonight. It sounds like a plan to me.

Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip

My Aunt Nancy made this Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip for Thanksgiving one year and I barely strayed away from it long enough to eat my turkey dinner. Though the base is cream cheese and pumpkin, the dip still manages to be spicy with that classic taco flavor you look for in a taco dip. The dip is stuffed with vegetables including red and green peppers, olives, and a bit of dried beef (which can be omitted for vegetarians). Served in a bread bowl or small pumpkin with a side of vegetables or crackers, this dip is sure to please any crowd.

One Year Ago: Banana Nut Bread (a favorite of mine)

Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip

Yields about 3 1/2 cups

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
3 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dried beef, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 can (6 ounces) olives, sliced
1 round loaf Italian or whole wheat bread or a small pumpkin

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, pumpkin, taco seasoning, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes until smooth. Stir in the dried beef, green and red bell pepper, and olives. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, hollow out round loaf of bread (bread can be used for bread crumbs or another use) or small pumpkin. Fill shell with dip. Serve with vegetables, chips, or crackers.

Reader Comments (12)

What an interesting dip recipe. It just so happens I have two small sugar pumpkins from my local farm, and your dip will be a great way to use one of them up.

I may be stepping out of line here, and I certainly don't want to alarm you, but bouts of short term memory loss & off and on slow motor skills, are not always due to sleep deprivation. I have a family member who had/still has the same symptoms, but her's were not caused from lack of sleep.
It wouldn't hurt to take some time and discuss this with your doctor.
10.16.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay
I also have to get up really early in the AM (5 to be exact) and I have a really hard time going to bed before 11 like I should...I ended up doing some research on sleep aids and because I didn't want to take a "medicine" I ended up looking into Melatonin. Melatonin is actually produced in your body naturally and as we age the amount produced decreases. It doesnt make me tired necessarily but I take it around 8:30-9pm and by 9:30 I'm in bed completely asleep. No hangover or drowsiness the next morning. Look into it and decide for yourself, I'm no doctor but it totally works for me. Btw, the dip looks fantastic!!! So going to try it soon.
10.16.2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
This dip looks lovely, and perfect to munch on before getting a good night's sleep! :-)
10.16.2011 | Unregistered Commenterthelittleloaf
That dip looks fantastic! I bought 10 cans of pumpkin at the store and am determined that not one can will end up in a pie. Dip sounds perfect :)

As for the sleep - melatonin is fabulous. You can pick up a bottle at almost any drug store. As the PP said, it is all natural and has no side effects. I have used it several times for a few nights to help me get back on a regular sleep cycle. My daughter's pediatrician even said it was safe for me to give her when we were traveling and she was only 4 at the time. I take 3mg and it works very well!
I forwarded this link straight to my wife... I can't even imagine this flavor... I'm hoping that she lets me find out.
10.17.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim
Jay-- Thanks for the concern! I think it's related to sleep loss, but if it continues after I've started getting a full night's sleep, I'll definitely not hesitate to check it out. Thanks!

Heather-- 5 am is just so hard to get up to! Thanks for the tip! I've never heard of melatonin before. I should definitely look into it.

The Little Loaf-- Trust me, it is. :)

Lindsey-- I love your pumpkin idea! It's perfect for staying creative in the kitchen. Thanks for the tip!

Jim-- I hope so too. :)
10.18.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Oh this looks amazing! I have a question though (I'm sorta of a cooking newbie) - what exactly is "dried beef"? I'm picturing in my head either beef jerky, or cooked ground beef that has been drained. :)
10.18.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess D
Unbelievable idea! I must try this.
10.18.2011 | Unregistered CommenterCal
Jess D-- Dried beef is the same thing as Chipped Beef. It is basically thin slices of beef dried and packed in air-tight jars. I used Hormel brand (it looks like this: http://www.hormelfoods.com/brands/hormel/HormelDriedBeef.aspx), but any brand will do. Most grocery stores will carry this, so you shouldn't have a problem finding it. I hope this helps!
10.18.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Never tried this pumpkin taco dip. I really want to try this and hopefully it can satisfy my hunger. Cheers!
10.19.2011 | Unregistered CommenterTaco Dip
Hi there! I love your blog, read it all the time and it gives me a lot of inspiration. But I do have one little question... Several times I have left a comment of a question and then I get the message it needs to be approved by you in order for it to appear. However, my comments never seem to get approved. I was wondering why this is? Am I doing something wrong? Thank you for your reply and keep on going with your lovely website :)
10.20.2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose
I tried your recipe and it is sooo good. I purchased a small pumpkin, hollowed it out, and steamed the pumpkin pulp. After returning it back into the pumpkin bowl, I made a pumpkin face out of the olives and peppers. Very cute.
10.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterChar

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