Aggie's Kitchen

Totally inspired…

I’m back from Napa.  Wow, what a trip!  To say I ate and drank very well would be an understatement.  Cooking at the CIA for the Bush’s Beans Flavors from Around the World event with Connie Guttersen, Daisy Martinez, Jeffrey Saad and Michael Schulson was an unforgettable experience.  So much to tell you, so many photos to share with you…not even sure where to begin really…





IMG_3216 (Bush’s Beans Blogger Panel:  Laura, Tina, Cheryl, Kristen, Katie, Amy, Sandy and me)

I got home early Sunday morning (I stayed a couple of extra days with a friend to play and took the red eye to get home in time for Halloween!) and am still getting back to “normal” if you know what I mean.  I will tell you that after my trip, I could NOT wait to get into my kitchen.  I experienced so many new flavors and ideas and learned so many new tips and tricks from all the chefs that I was ready to explode.  I guess that’s how you know you are among people who really love food…our conversations were always buzzing about spices, techniques, foods, products, cooking for your family…so much to talk about, it was so inspiring.  I just loved every minute of it.


Our day of cooking was split into 2 sessions, morning and afternoon.  All 4 of the chefs shared with us a recipe they created for Bush’s and gave us a cooking demonstration.  We then split into groups and cooked up their recipes that we were going to end up eating for lunch.  What a spread.  I loved everything that was on my plate.


Last night I knew I wanted a light dinner…after indulging for four days, salad sounded good to me.  I made this for the family and even served it family style thanks to Kristen’s (one of my tripmates!) last post.  It was the perfect light dinner.  Save yourself some time and prepare some of it ahead….for example, the bean spread and shrimp can be prepared the day or night before and the veggies like jicama and lettuce can be chopped early on too.  I was proud of my kids for trying almost everything.  They deconstructed the salad and tried the shrimp, cannellini beans, jicama and the pita with spread.  Almost all of this was new to them so it was a great experiment.  Serving it family style on the table made it more fun and was a huge time saver.

IMG_3495 (don’t look too hard for the jicama in this picture…Larry was bringing it home from the store while I was rushing to take pictures in the last few minutes of natural light of the day…it was added in after)

The salad was bursting with tons of veggies, proteins and flavor.  I loved the little pops of pomegranate seeds.  Jicama is one of my favorite veggies and I was happy to have it reintroduced to me…I don’t cook with it enough.  If you are trying to ease up on “carbs”, jicama rounds are great dippers.  I just enjoyed leftover bean dip with some jicama rounds for lunch!  The bean dip is so creamy and delicious.  I love that Connie sauteed the artichokes with celery and garlic before adding it to the puree.  It added a whole other level of flavor.  And she recommended adding the olive oil and lemon juice at the end…I loved this and so did the family (well, Sammy tried it…which was good…Gina, Larry and I loved!).

(Disclosure:  Bush’s Beans invited me on this trip and covered my costs to attend.)



Enjoy!  I’ll be back soon with more “adventures in Napa”…

BUSH’S Gigi Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Recipe created for Bush’s Beans by Connie Gutterson, PhD, RD author of “The New Sonoma Diet Cookbook” and “The Sonoma Diet Cookbook”

Serves 4-5

For Citrus Vinaigrette:

1 TB orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (tip – segment oranges first, then squeeze what’s left for juice)
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 TB red wine vinegar
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB agave syrup or honey
1 pinch chile flakes
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk (or in a mason jar and shake). Season with salt and pepper.

For Salad:

2 cups hearts of palms
2 cups orange segments (appx 2 oranges)
1 cup jicama, juilenne
1 lb shrimp, cooked
salt and pepper
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, arials
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup scallions, cut thin on bias
2 cups butter lettuce, cut into strips
1/2 can Bush’s Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed (save 1/2 can for Creamy White Bean and Artichoke Spread)
4 whole wheat pitas, grilled or toasted
2 TB slivered almonds, toasted
salt and pepper to taste

Combine hearts of palm, orange, jicama and cooked shrimp in large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Dress salad with 4 tablespoons of citrus dressing.
Gently mix in pomegranate seeds, avocados, scallions, lettuce and beans. Taste for salt and pepper and additional dressing. Garnish with toasted almonds.


BUSH’S Creamy White Bean and Artichoke Spread on Whole Wheat Pita
Recipe created for Bush’s Beans by Connie Gutterson, PhD, RD author of “The New Sonoma Diet Cookbook” and “The Sonoma Diet Cookbook”

1 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic, chopped (I added a lot more…2 cloves!  I like my garlic!)
4 TB celery, diced
1 cup artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained or frozen and thawed
4 oz low fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 can BUSH’S Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1 pinch cayenne (optional)
2 TB chives
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling at end)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in small saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and celery and cook until garlic is aromatic, approximately 20 seconds. Add artichokes and saute until artichokes are slightly browned, approximately 5-8 minutes. Set aside and cool in refrigerator.

Combine cream cheese and 1/2 can of beans in food processor. Add cayenne (optional). Process until smooth. Add in cooled artichoke mixture. Puree until slightly chunky. Add chives. Season with lemon juice, additional olive oil and salt and pepper.
Serve with warm pita or flat bread topped with Gigi Salad.

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26 comments on “Totally inspired…”

  1. YUM and fun! What a great trip Aggie, glad you ladies had fun 🙂

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in one day……..and such FANTASTIC food!!…’re pictures are making me hungry for all of that food again!……need to get cookin’ here!

    So fun meeting you Aggie!!

  3. Now you have me jealous and hungry…LOL! Beautiful pictures. Glad you had a nice time.

  4. ah! So jealous of your fabulous trip, time with the chefs and other amazing bloggers. This looks like an INCREDIBLE dinner. I want to make that White Bean and Artichoke Spread so bad. Cannot wait to read more

  5. This looks like a fabulous meal! I love all the different colors and textures. What a wonderful experience that must have been in Napa!

  6. Glad you had a good trip – that salad looks delicious!

  7. What an incredible experience. Sounds you had a blast.

  8. I love all your photos Aggie and those are really beautiful food!

  9. Thanks for the update. I’ve been waiting to hear what you all were up to while with the Bush Bean crew. Sounds like you had a great time. LOVE the bean dip and salad too.

  10. Sounds like a fantastic trip….great recipes to share too!

  11. Love the photos Aggie! I love the family style eating and that salad looks awesome. You know how much we love shrimp. The bean dip looks great too.

  12. So cool!! What an experience and lovely photos! We stopped at Farmstead when we visited Napa during our century in May and it was amazing! We loved the atmosphere and unique menu based on local ingredients.

  13. Wonderful dinner and great trip too, you are the bon vivant.

  14. Can I admit a little jealousy of heading to Napa for a few days? So glad for you all and sounds like a wonderful time. This salad looks amazing {I’m on a salad kick at the moment and YUM that looks great}. Have a fun time settling back at home…. Have a super night!

  15. I love driving up to the CIA. The building alone is just stellar. Well, the whole of the wine country is fabulous, isn’t it? Love the salad.

  16. I bet your inspired!!!!

  17. Sounds like a fabulous trip and meal. What a gorgeous estate.

  18. Whoa that dip looks incredible! When I first saw the photo I totally thought it was something with tuna salad. haha

    I gotta make that!

  19. what a great trip! everything looks so beautiful!

  20. I have been such a stranger to your blog lately. So sorry! Your trip to Napa (again) looked amazing. Love that bean dip.
    I will be sending you a few copies of my new cookbook very soon!! Can’t wait for you to see it.

  21. Beautiful photos and dishes! Shrimp with avocado is fabulous.

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  24. Oooh what a great opportunity!! 🙂

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