Brown Sugar Glazed Pistachio Baked Carrots

I like getting my nails done.

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Mind you, this is not an activity I nor anyone who knows me would have guessed I would enjoy. I have always been a tomboy-type – an outdoor-loving, dirt-under-the-fingernails kind of girl. I don’t wear makeup and don’t plan on starting anytime soon, and I own exactly two pairs of heels that gather dust until a specific social event forces me to put them on.

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Somehow, though, my nails have always been the exception. I like to take one night each month and labor over all 20 of them, filing and buffering, gently brushing on smooth coats of deep reds, purples and bright pinks. And then, because I can’t just stop there, I apply some pretty little stickers to my thumbs and big toes and seal them over with a clear topcoat.

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What do manicures have to do with cooking, you ask? Nothing. Except that eating carrots is supposed to make your nails grow stronger and look better, so that is what I was hoping for when I devoured this dish.

What You Need:

  • 3 lbs carrots, washed and peeled with greens cut off about 1 inch above carrot tops
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large pot, bring the 3 cups water to a boil.

Add the carrots and reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until carrots are tender and easily punctured with a fork.

While carrots are cooking, mix butter and brown sugar together until they form a glaze.

Place pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes or until just toasted.

Drain carrots and move to a serving dish, fanning them out to open space between carrots for the glaze to seep through.

Pour the glaze over the carrots.

Top with toasted pistachios and serve!

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Thanksgiving Dish Day 1: Hassleback Sweet Potatoes with Candied Apples

Discovering that such a thing as a hassleback potato exists kind of blew my mind. I’m not even joking. I had never heard of these before, but of course as soon as I did, it’s all I wanted to make.

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The best thing about sweet potatoes is how well they pair with both savory and sweet foods; for instance, goat cheese or marshmallow. This dish could go in a thousand different directions, but I chose to make it sweet because (since it’s not Thanksgiving yet) I served them with similar-themed foods: garlic and honey roasted chicken and these delish Sweet Dumpling Squash Fritters.

I highly recommend using larger-sized potatoes that are big in diameter. Length is much less important – and also try to stick with potato that’s a straighter shape – no curves or twists.

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What You Need:

  •  4-6 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (like OceanSpray)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 425F

The trick to making hassleback potatoes is to cut thin slices in them without slicing completely through the potato. To do this, I laid two wooden spoons (that I don’t care too much about) against each side of the potato, with the potato nestled in the middle.

When you slice the potato, your knife will stop at the spoons, thus leaving the bottom of the potato in tact.

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Make slices from end to end on each of your potatoes.

Then, mix together your remaining ingredients (apple through butter).

Place the sliced potatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish and cover with the topping. You should be able to stuff some of the topping in-between the slices to inject the flavor, if you will, into the potatoes.

Place the whole shebang into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until you can easily get a fork through the potatoes. After 20 minutes, check to ensure the sugar isn’t burning. If it does, place on a lower rack and bring the heat down to 300F.

Pro Tip: As I said, because sweet potatoes are so versatile, this dish could be done a bunch of different ways. Try placing a small patty of butter on each potato and sprinkling salt and pepper over the dish. For a fun twist on a fairly traditional Thanksgiving dish, bake the hasslebacks for about 15 minutes or until soft, and then stuff a few small marshmallows in-between the slices and bake again until just browned.

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