Bush Beans, New Friends and New Ideas

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Napa Valley, California to attend a chili tasting at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone courtesy of Bushs Beans. Myself and three other ladies, Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer, Amy from She Wears Many Hats and Aggie from Aggie's Ktichen all got to spend the day together cooking in the CIA Kitchen. We prepared chili recipes created by Connie Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D. for Bushs Beans. Connie is the author of the Sonoma Diet Cookbook and one awesome lady. Talk about an amazing experience and a beautiful place to be all rolled up into one.

From the time I arrived in Napa everything was so beautiful. It was at that moment that I knew I wasn't in Texas anymore. We just don't have this kind of stuff. Look at all the beautiful mustard growing along side of the road. So much beautiful scenery every where you looked. I couldn't believe just how pretty and colorful Napa was.

On our first evening in Napa we visited the wonderful Bottega restaurant. Funny thing is we started out as strangers but quickly became so much more. The chatter at the table became quite the buzz. So many different conversation going on all at the same time. But through all the topics of choice they had one thing in common. Food, Family and Friends! I love how food brings people together. We had such a great time chatting about our blogs our families and how food kind of intertwines it all together. By nights end we had become so much more than strangers we became Friends! The chemistry was so great we felt as if we already knew each other.

On Friday our day began at The Culinary Institute of America at - Greystone. I still cannot believe how beautiful it is. The CIA simply just takes your breath away the first time you see it.

He we are from left to right. Amy, Sandy, Me and Aggie we were so excited to get started in the kitchen.

Ken, Katie and Christina all representing Bushs Beans along with Connie Guttersen were our wonderful hosts for the day. Each and everyone of them made us feel right at home as soon as we arrived. I knew immediately I could finally breathe a sigh of relief and that everything was going to be alright. You see I left Texas not knowing what to expect. I was really worried about what everyone was going to think.

Would they like me? would I measure up to the rest? or would I be uncomfortable the entire time I was there? So many questions were swirling through my mind on the plane. All I can say is I worried for nothing. Everyone was just as nervous as I was. But Ken, Katie and Christina made us feel so comfortable right from the start. They are so awesome like that.

This is Chef Andy Wild and Connie Guttersen only two of the most amazing people in my book. They truly are down to earth and wonderful people. Both, made us feel right at home in the kitchen from the start. It was such a relaxing atmosphere that any question we asked wasn't too big, too small or even to silly.

Chef Andy taught us so many things.

He showed us the correct way to dice and chop vegetables. (I found out I have been chopping and dicing the hard way. LOL)

Chef Andy also showed us how to roast all different types of peppers, onions and tomatillos.

I learned that there is more than one way to do things. You can roast peppers many different ways, in the oven, directly on a grill or in a pan. Chef Andy said you can roast peppers, garlic and onions all at the same time in the same pan. Then dice them up and add them to stews, salsas and soups, instead of just dicing them up and adding them. He said when you roast them first, they take on a whole different flavor.

Then there was beans and lots of them. I learned that beans were so nutritious and so versatile. I am so syked about trying out so many different recipes and new ways to incorporate beans into our diets. This will be especially helpful for Mr. Picky Pants Carson. I learned a few new ways to disguise beans as well. Now maybe I can get him to eat more protein and fiber. With kids sometimes it's all about how things are prepared and presented. I am really excited to get started on a few new bean recipes. Connie and Chef Andy really got my wheels spinning in the bean department.

Chef Andy set up cooking stations for each one of us. He taught us how to keep our stations clean and how to pass a knife properly. He also showed us proper placement for our knife or knives on our cooking stations so no one would get hurt if we happened to walk off. And most of all how not to walk around holding a knife. Whew we did so much knife talk that I really came out of this experience thinking I need a great new knife set at home.

After a short tour of the kitchen we were ready to get cooking. The photo above cracks me up. You see this is a photo of me taking a picture of Amy, Aggie and Sandy all taking a picture of the same thing. (the back of the kitchen). LOL

Connie was so amazed at all the photos we took, especially of the food. What can I say thats just how us Foodies Roll!

This is Aggie from Aggie's Kitchen aka my partner in crime and the other half of "Team Pesto".

Chef Andy and Connie quickly got us in the kitchen and cooking. Don't we look so professional!!!

Aggie and I prepared White Bean Chili Verde with Sonoma Pesto (recipe coming soon). Because of this recipe I am now a pesto lover and I cant seem to get enough of it.

Here is Amy and Sandy aka "Team Chorizo"

they were preparing Chicken and Kidney Beans Spanish Stew. If you would like the recipe click here and check out Sandy's site where she recently blogged about this wonderful recipe.

Time for some chili tasting.

Lunch is served and it was so delicious. Chef Andy and Connie gave us a thumbs up on taste (happy dance). I literally ate till I felt like I was going to pop, it was that good. I had such a great time cooking at the CIA. This is something that I will remember for a very long time.

Thank you for letting me share my trip with all of you. We arrived in Napa as strangers, but by the time we left we all felt more like family. Funny how things happen to work out that way. Thank you Bush's Beans, Chef Andy and Connie Guttersen for such a memorable day at the CIA. I learned so many new thing and most of all I learned the power of beans. To all my readers, thank for indulging with me for just a bit. I hope to inspire all of you to incorporate more beans into your diets. I know we will be having beans a lot more around our house.

I cant wait to share lots of new recipes with all of you, so be on a look out. The first one I will sharing is the White Bean Chili Verde that Aggie and I prepared. If you would like to find out more ways to help incorporate beans into your diet. Stop by and visit, Beans The Vegetable with More. They have some great recipes and very informative links. I have already found a few recipes I want to make. The Slow Cooker Pork and Pinto Enchiladas look so tasty.

Disclosure: Bush’s Beans covered all my costs on my trip to Napa Valley. I am under no obligation to write this post, I am just a big fan of Bush's Beans. Opinion stated in this post are entirely my own and I have not been compensated to publish positive comments

Tina, The Mom in Mommy's Kitchen


Susan said…
Wonderful Post!!! Thank You!!! I really enjoyed it. I also love the recipes you post on here, I don't always tell you that.

Jane said…
Sounds like a great weekend! The perfect getaway for a foodie!
We did have a great time. Hope we get to work together (and play some too!) again soon!
Great post! I love that part of Napa...it is SO gorgeous this time of year...and in the summer...and fall... I'm really interested to hear about what you learned. I am sure I chop the hard way, and I know I don't use the right knife (I have an entire knife set, yet I use the steak knives for everything!). Will there be any tutorials in your future???
Cheryl said…
Wow ! What a great experience for you, the scenery is gorgeous too! Let us know what your tips are for "picky pants" I also have one of those in my house.
Love the Bush's Beans too ! Yum, unfortunately I have to drive a little to get me some. We're about an hour and a half (from Target), across the Canadian border. Hmmm come to think of it, we're out of a lot of that good stuff that we can only get South of the Border. Time to take a drive I think !
Great post, so happy for you to have been able to participate, looked like fun !
Anonymous said…
What an awesome trip! How do you get to do things like that? I would love to get to travel to cook!! Lucky girl!!!
DailyChef said…
I love Napa! Very jealous of your trip, but glad you had such a great time!
Unknown said…
You have been awarded the Sugar Doll Award!

What a lot of fun! Thanks for posting about it!
Sandy said…
Hi Tina,

What fun we had. It's fun to think back, isn't it? I love what we learned, too. And all the new ideas for recipes.

Cheers! Great post, my friend!
Aggie said…
Love that we got to meet and in such a beautiful place! Our time together was fun wasn't it! Enjoyed looking at your pictures!

The Manintvelds said…
It looked like so much fun! Lucky girl .. food and making friends, you can't beat it!
Anonymous said…
Kinda late to this post but had to say how wonderful that trip was. A great post and you sure look good!! Elizabeth H