Heavenly Slow Cooker Meals for Winter: Coconut Butternut Squash and Spinach

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My car has been in the shop for more than 3 weeks. It wouldn’t start, and although the temperature outside at the time was below zero, I was told that wouldn’t matter, even for a 10-year-old car prone to a mild degree of grumpiness.

Luckily, the car place gave me a loaner, and it happens to be a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta. This thing is SLICK.

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Therefore, it makes me feel pretty slick to be driving it. It might as well be a Maserati. I’m turning up the radio, leaning back, giving other drivers a little nod to acknowledge that I realize I am winning at driving.

The latest news is that my car still isn’t fixed, which I’ve already decided means I’m just going to keep the loaner car forever.

In the end, nothing really matters as long as I have a way to get to the grocery store. I like Thai food a lot and this dish tastes like Thai food. Plus it’s super easy and makes a ton.

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What You Need:

  • 1 lb Butternut Squash, peeled and seeded and diced into cubes (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 small cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (seeded if desired to reduce spiciness)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp oriental seasoning (if you don’t have this, just use a pinch of garlic powder, a pinch of onion powder, a pinch of ground ginger, and a pinch of black pepper.)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cups spinach, raw

What You Do:

In the crock pot, add the squash through the oriental seasoning and mix well.

Cook on high for 5 hours.

Once it is ready to serve, add coconut milk and spinach and mix well, continuing to cook and stir until spinach is soft and reduced.

Add some red pepper flakes to the top of each dish if desired. Enjoy!

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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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