Acorns are everywhere this year!  They’re covering the sidewalks, bouncing off my car, and hitting me on the head.  According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the area’s oak trees are dropping acorns at a rate that is 5 to 10 times the normal rate.  This abundance of acorns happens every decade or so and is known as a “mast” year.  Although no one is exactly sure why it happens, scientists think that this year’s bumper crop is likely related to last year’s drought — the trees are trying to perpetuate their species by expending energy producing seed.

Oak tree branch heavy with acorns 

 Acorns everywhere 

My son’s birthday was yesterday, and although sending a birthday snack to school is getting kind of old for him now that he is a teenager, I am not quite ready to give it up.  Having acorns on the brain, I decorated sugar cookies to look like acorns and dropped them off at school.  The kids will probably think I’m nuts.  😉

 Acorn cookies 

And speaking of things in trees, I noticed that the neighborhood is looking very festive for Halloween this year.  There are great big hairy spiders hanging from trees:

And cute little ghost families:

And this traffic-stopping display of hanging pumpkin buckets (seriously — it even made the front page of the newspaper):

In the Halloween spirit, I made a favorite appetizer for a party last week.  I call it Severed Hand Raspberry Chipotle Cream Cheese Dip, and you kind of have to have a sense of humor to serve it and to eat it.  I am particularly fond of this recipe because I won $500 for it from Better Recipes.  I didn’t have a lot of time to sculpt the hand, and several people thought it looked more like an animal claw, but like I said, you have to have a sense of humor.

Preparing the severed hand

Don’t be afraid

Recipe type: Halloween
  • 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 5 smoked almonds
  • 1 cup Fischer & Wieser Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce*
  • Wheat Thins or favorite cracker
  • *If you prefer, you can make your own raspberry chipotle sauce by mixing together ½ cup raspberry preserves, 2-1/2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar, and 2-1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from can of chipotle chiles).
  1. Place cream cheese in center of serving platter. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 lengthwise slits in cream cheese, equally spaced, approximately halfway down the block of cream cheese, cutting all the way through the block of cream cheese.
  2. Using your hands, shape five "fingers" from the cut sections of the cream cheese. Round off opposite end of block of cream cheese to resemble palm. Place smoked almonds at the tip of each finger to resemble fingernails. Pour raspberry chipotle sauce over palm end of cream cheese. Serve with crackers.