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.