A Culinary Experience and Bush’s Beans Giveaway (Recipe: Creamy Black Bean & Bacon Soup)

This giveaway is now closed. Random.org chose Richard (rtrblade@……). Congrats to Richard! Thanks to everyone for entering.

Sometimes I just want to pinch myself when I think about the opportunities that have been given to me simply by starting this blog four years ago. At the end of October I had the opportunity to travel to Napa Valley, CA with the most wonderful group of bloggers, chefs and Bush’s Beans folks. We stayed at the beautiful Meadowood Lodge, enjoyed meals at the delicious Farmstead Restaurant and the amazing Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant. We were wined and dined and treated wonderfully, but would you believe that the most amazing part of the experience was when we were put to work?

I’ve never been that jealous of people when they said they had the chance to cook at The Culinary Institute of America. Now I know that was because I had no idea what it really meant to cook at the CIA. Imagine a full kitchen, stocked with every possible pan, bowl, utensil you want and only the most state of the art equipment. Now, imagine that the kitchen is stocked with the freshest of ingredients right at your fingertips. Finally, picture being in this kitchen with some of the most well trained, talented chefs in America. Sounds a little like foodie heaven, doesn’t it? I can attest, it is. Cooking at the CIA was an experience of a lifetime and one that I would have never have had the chance to experience if it wasn’t for my blog and the people at Bush’s Beans.

As a part of our Culinary Experience we were given the chance to cook with and get to know some pretty cool chefs, all who had different styles and techniques but were all just as amazing.

  • Chef Andy Wild – Chef Andy allowed us to cook in his kitchen at the CIA, gave us amazing instruction and tips and was beyond generous with his space and knowledge. He is a busy, busy, busy man with a family and numerous chef related jobs outside of his job at the CIA.
  • Connie Guttersen – Connie is one of those warm, welcoming people who you feel you could sit down and have coffee with and chat for hours. Make sure to check out her book The Sonoma Diet, where she shares her philosophy that food can be healthy and taste great!
  • Chef Jeffrey Saad – Many of you may know Jeffrey from Season 5 of The Next Food Network Star. I think the best way to describe Jeffrey is passionate. He has a passion for food and cooking that is truly inspiring. Make sure to check out Jeffrey’s newest show, The United Tastes of America, which premiers on The Cooking Channel November 16th. (Oh – and his wife Nadia is one of the sweetest and supportive wives ever!)
  • Chef Michael Schulson – Michael is the executive chef and owner of the restaurants Izakaya and Sampan. Aside from being an amazing chef, I would say one of Michael’s strengths is efficiency in the kitchen. He shared several tips on ways to make life more streamlined in our own home kitchens.
  • Chef Daisy Martinez – A force to be reckoned with in the kitchen, Daisy is the mom of 4 kids, has a successful television show and has a new cookbook coming out, Daisy Morning, Noon and Night! With a specialty in Latin Cooking, Daisy taught us all the importance of spice and layers of flavor when cooking.

Although I would have loved to stay in Napa longer, I couldn’t wait to get home to cook in my own kitchen. I was inspired to use the tips, tricks and techniques we learned about at the CIA in my own kitchen. It was part of that inspiration that I used to adapt this recipe for Creamy Black Bean Soup from Southern Living. This was one of the most delicious black bean soup recipes I’ve ever tasted. I hope you’ll give it a try!

And, to cook up some Bush’s Beans inspiration in your own kitchen, my friends at Bush’s Beans are offering you a great prize pack which will include:
· Bush’s Beans items: apron, coupons, bean strainer and mints, recipe bookmark
· Spices/ingredients:: Tahini paste, cumin, smoked paprika
· Culinary Institute of America/Napa items: Spoon rest, dish towel, Olive Press citrus olive oil

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post with a link to your favorite Bean recipe! That’s it. Easy peasy. All entries must be turned in by midnight on Sunday, November 14th.

To read about the Bush’s Beans Culinary adventure with other food blogging friends, click on over to these blogs: Aggie’s Kitchen, In Mommy’s Kitchen, She Wears Many Hats, The Reluctant Entertainer, Good Life Eats, Tidy Mom, Real Mom Kitchen

Recipe: Creamy Black Bean and Bacon Soup adapted from Southern Living Magazine

Yield: 6 cups

  • 5 slices cottage style bacon
  • 1 cup medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 32oz box Swanson’s chicken broth
  • 4 (15-oz.) cans BUSH’S Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chiles, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven until crisp. Remove bacon, cut into bite size pieces and set aside.
  2. Sauté onion and garlic in bacon grease oven over medium-high heat 4 to 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth and next 4 ingredients, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven; cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro and lime juice. Let cool 5 minutes.
  3. Process 1/2 of the batch of soup in a large food processor until smooth. Return to the Dutch oven, and stir in corn and bacon pieces. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occassionaly. Add the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and heat through, approximately 5 minutes (but do not boil). Remove from heat and serve.

Disclaimer: Bush’s Beans provided food, travel, and lodging expenses for my trip to Napa as well as an overall amazing experience. They are also providing the prize pack giveaway for the readers of Dine & Dish. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

CIA cooking photos courtesy of professional photographer, Faith Ectermeyer.

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