Citrus Cayenne Carrots

My stepmom put me in charge of carrots for Christmas dinner this year. Thank god, because I normally hate cooked carrots. This was their chance, I thought. Carrots might just be able to redeem themselves this year…
They totally did.
When I was going to school in Santa Barbara, California, one of my close friends had a job at Blenders, a local smoothie chain. She’d always swing by with smoothies after a shift, of various experiments she’d concoct in her down time. Once, I had been deathly ill, and she made a fabulous smoothie composed of mostly orange and carrot juice. From that day on, I was hooked. It was my personal form of crack. I’ve never been able to resist an orange-carrot based smoothie ever since. It became the inspiration for this spicy version of half-cooked carrots (honestly, who likes mushy carrots?).
I wanted to pair something savory with the roast that was planned for dinner. Warning: the carrots definitely have a sharp bite to them! But you can alter the amount of cayenne to your particular tastes to adjust that.

1 pound carrots, washed and peeled
1-1/2 cups orange juice
1 orange or lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
mandarin oranges for garnish

For the glaze, juice the orange or the lemon into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then mix the remaining ingredients with a whisk. Cover and let sit while you prepare the carrots.
Slice the carrots diagonally into quarter-inch discs. Pile them into a large saucepan with the orange juice, and add just enough water to cover all of the carrots. Let simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, until the carrots are slightly tender (but not soft). Remove the carrots and strain over the sink. Toss the carrots in the dressing, and serve in a large bowl. Garnish with mandarin oranges. The oranges add a nice contrast to offset the spicy glaze.