Pickled Willy’s Gourmet Pickled Seafood #PickledWillys

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Pickled Willy’s is a family/veteran owned and operated specialty seafood processing plant in Kodiak, Alaska. They sell a variety of seafood related items in various forms. Their smoked fish seems popular and they have won awards for it. Their flagship products, pickled seafood, are what is unique about the company. They use an old family recipe with secret seasonings they won’t divulge! Their commitment to quality is commendable. All of their products are 100% sustainable and fished from Alaskan waters. The products are hand packed, low in fat, high in Omega-3’s, all natural, and have no preservatives. Their ingredients are simply as follows: Halibut/Lining Cod/Sockeye Salmon/King Crab, Organic Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Water, Pickling Spice, Onion, Salt (Fish). Bonus:Their products are also gluten free! They are also committed to providing their long-distance customers with the freshest product. They shipped it UPS expedited and it was extremely well packed with bubble wrap, ice packs, and lots of “this end up” stickers (which UPS ignored).

Also, if you car ever in Kodiak, you can visit their shop and sample the various products they sell. Pickled Willy’s products make great souvenirs and gifts. If you happen to do some fishing while you are in Kodiak, Pickled Willy’s will even process and ship your catch back home to you! You choose the preservation method. So cool!

Now, your first question is probably “Does it taste good?”

I assume this is your first question, because it is usually the first question anyone asks before they try something new. Some people might be wary because the combination of pickles and fish is a bit unusual, aside from some tuna salad recipes that contain pickle relish. Also the only pickled fish most people have heard of is the Northern European delicacy pickled herring, which has an unfortunately bad reputation. I want to debunk this unfortunate reputation, because Pickled Willy’s seafood is quite tasty! It is a mild pickling solution, so you don’t notice the vinegar bite you get in many pickle products. The sugar is also not overpowering, which is nice. The pickling spices also compliment the fish, so they don’t cover up the natural flavor of the fish. Best of all the fish tastes fresh. If there is one taste I cannot stand, it is the pungent taste of fish that has been frozen or sitting around for a couple of days. Pickled Willy’s obviously uses fresh caught fish that they pack right away to preserve the natural subtle taste only found in a fresh catch. So overall, the pickled seafood has a mild, subtle taste that can only compliment your meal, not overpower the other ingredients. And don’t forget the health benefits!

Your next question “How on earth do you eat it?”

There are many things you can do with pickled fish. The simplest is to serve it as an appetizer on a cracker, piece of toast, or slice of cucumber. Adding a dollop of sour cream is often recommended (but I can’t say if it is good, because I cannot eat it!). Pickled Will’s packs all of their fish in bite-sized chunks, so they are convenient for appetizers. The seafood is also tasty as a main dish in sandwiches, wraps, and on salads. You can even mix it with other ingredients to make a dip! The Pickled Willy’s website also has a recipe page to give you some ideas. If you want to eat it plain, then some popular pickled fish accompaniments are cold mayonnaise based salads, such as potato or macaroni salad, beets, boiled potatoes, and hard boiled eggs.

Seriously, how great (and unique!) an appetizer would it be to serve the salmon on a slice of cucumber with a dab of sour cream and a sprig of dill on top! This would be a great idea with the holidays just around the corner!! Here is my test batch:

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For more information or to purchase visit pickledwillys.com

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All my opinions are my own. One may or may not have the same results as myself when using this product.

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French Onion Soup

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I have to say that this is my absolute favorite soup! It is simple to make, low in calorie (until you add the bread and cheese!), and tastes great! I don’t get to eat it very often though, because it is made with beef stock, which often contains gluten. Also, there is the bread and cheese to contend with!

Ingredients

2-3 medium onions, yellow or white, sliced thinly

1 – 32 oz box of GF Beef broth (I used Rachel Ray’s brand, because it is all natural)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp of dried thyme (or 1 sprig of fresh)

1 Tbl of GF Worcestershire Sauce (I used Lea & Perrins)

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  1. Slice onions and saute until translucent in a small amount of oil or butter. This can be done in the same stockpot (4 qt for this recipe) you will cook the soup in, to save dishes.

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2. Add in bay leaf, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Cook 10-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

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3. Portion out into oven save bowls, top each with a piece of your favorite GF bread (the crustier the better), and your favorite cheese (soy mozzarella for me!) and broil in the oven until the cheese melts.

  • If you  do not have oven safe bowls or do not want to take the extra time to cook the soup altogether, you can cheat! While the soup is cooking, top your bread with the cheese and toast it in either a toaster oven or in your conventional oven. When the soup is ready, pop the toasted cheesy bread on top and serve!

Easy GF Vegan/Vegetarian Chili Recipe

One of the things that surprised me when going gluten free is the amount of soups and stews that contain gluten, especially chili. Chili is one of my favorite meals to make because it is hearty, wholesome, and delicious! It goes great on hot dogs, hamburgers, and french fries too. However, I have to be careful about ordering it when dining out. Many kinds of pre-packaged chili contain gluten. Premixed chili spice packets also can contain gluten. I even had a friend offer me some of her “famous” chili, but declined when she told me her secret is to dump a bottle of beer in it at the end! That is also why I ask what is in each thing I consider eating, even if it seems obvious.

This recipe is my favorite, because of it’s simplicity. Basically you dump a can of every vegetable you like into a pot and let it stew. You can do it quickly in a stock pot on the stove or let it stew all day in your crock pot. You can easily add or remove any ingredient, based on taste, without damaging the recipe overall. I added an onion and peppers for flavor, but they aren’t necessary. This time, I even replaced the chili spices with two of the new McCormick GF Chili spice packets, to make it even easier! It may not be haute cuisine, but it is great in a pinch. Probably the best aspect is its low cost. I purchase the canned goods when they are on sale, never paying more than $1 per can. I estimate it cost me $12.22 to make the whole pot. I usually get 8-10 servings per pot. Assuming the 8 servings, that is $1.52 per serving! It also freezes well too, so you don’t get tired of leftovers. I portion out the leftovers, so I can bring them to work or eat them later, when I don’t feel like making a meal from scratch.

Ingredients – Chili Base

1 small onion, white or yellow, rough chop

1 bell pepper, color of choice (I used green this time)

2 – McCormick Gluten Free Chili spice packets

1 – 15 oz can of black beans

1 – 15 oz can of kidney beans

1 – 15 oz can of corn

1 – 15 oz can of okra

1 – 15 oz can of sqaush

5 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes, flavor of choice (some brands offer chili seasoned ones!)

1 – 6 oz can of tomato paste

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  1. Saute onion and pepper, if desired. Add it to your stock pot or crock pot. If you are using a stock pot, you can saute in the same pot so you have less dishes.

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2. Add in spices or spice packet, cook for a few minutes until fragrant. This brings out the flavors more, so you can use less spice.

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3. Add in mixed veggies, making sure to drain the liquid from each can. Rinse the beans thoroughly too. I usually throw the contents of each can in a colander and rinse.

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4. Add in the tomatoes, also well drained. If you purchased spiced diced tomatoes, do not rinse them or you will loose the spices!

5. Cook on low crockpot setting for 6-8 hours or medium heat on the stove for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. As the vegetables cook down, the chili will look a little watery (see image above).

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6. Add in the tomato paste to thicken the chili. It is ready to eat!

  • I serve mine with vegan cheese and avocado or guacamole. Sometimes I also include tortilla chips or GF cornbread on the side too.
  • For a meaty version, add in 1 lb cooked ground beef or turkey in between steps 2 and 3.
  • For a fall twist add cooked pumpkin or another winter squash. Adding cinnamon to the squash version is great too!

For those of you who don’t want to use a spice packet:

Ingredients – Homemade Chili Spice

2 Tbl Chili powder

1.5 tsp red pepper flakes

1.5 Tbl Garlic Powder

1 Tsp Onion Powder

1.5 Tbl Cumin Powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp sugar

Gluten Free Banana Bread

This is my favorite quickbread recipe and also my most frequently used recipe over all. It makes a great breakfast item or a nice snack with a cup of coffee. It works well for potlucks, bake sales, welcome wagons/baskets, gifts, and as an easy breakfast when you have visitors. I have even brought one, instead of the customary casserole, to a grieving family. They really appreciated a breakfast option, since everyone else gave them lunch or dinner items.

This recipe is a favorite, because I love adaptable recipes. The batter can be scooped into muffin tins for those who don’t like having to slice a loaf. It can be topped with oats, crushed nuts, or a gluten free streusel to make it more attractive. My favorite thing about this recipe is that you can switch out the nuts for dried fruit or chocolate chips. Cranberries add a holiday flair! You can also experiment with the spices or leave them out for a more basic banana bread. I have been known to add a gluten free bourbon or coconut flavoring in the past too! Just be careful not to add more than two tbsp of liquid (this includes the vanilla) or it will effect how the bread rises.

Ingredients

2 c GF Flour blend – I used Domata in this one, but have used Bob’s Red Mill and Wholesome Chow with success in the past

1 tsp Xanthan gum – only if your flour blend doesn’t already contain it

2 tsp GF baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 c sugar, granulated

1/2 c sugar, brown, not packed

1 stick butter, margarine, or earth balance, melted

3 bananas, medium, smashed

2 ea egg, large, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c pecans, pieces

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Sift flour, Xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon , and nutmeg together.

3. Mix in both sugars.

4. Mix in melted butter, mashed bananas, and eggs.

5. Fold in pecans.

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6. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, then pour in batter.

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7. Bake 45-60 minutes until crust is golden or until a knife or toothpick you stick in the middle comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool in a pan for 30-40 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack.

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Pro Tips:

*DO NOT open the oven to check on the bread while it is baking. I know this is a well ingrained habit, but gluten free baked goods will collapse if you do this! Gluten is what normally gives breads and cakes their structure and stability. The rapid change in temperature caused by opening the oven will collapse what little structure is created by the xanthan gum. It is better to use the oven light to check on your baked goods through the oven window. I do not recommend opening the oven until the 45 minute mark to quickly check the doneness on this specific bread.

*If you have parchment or wax paper on hand, cut a piece the size and shape of the bottom of your pan (this works for cakes and bar cookies too!) place it in the pan after it has been greased. Having this paper at the bottom of the pan, keeps your baked good from sticking to the bottom of the pan and tearing apart when removing it.

Lactose-free Hot Crab Dip

Ingredients

8 oz can jumbo lump crab, picked clean of shells

8 oz tub of dairy free cream cheese (I used Tofutti)

8 oz of Cabot Sharp cheddar cheese (naturally lactose free), or dairy free cheese of choice

1 stalk of green onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbl paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar (optional, if you like a little sweet)

1 tsp chili powder (optional, if you like a little spice)

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Scale out all of your ingredients. Break up the cheese if it comes in a block, like mine did. Pre-shredded cheese works fine to.

*You can replace the seasonings with Lawry’s season salt (McCormick states that it is GF, even though the packaging does not mention it), if you need to make this quickly.

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Mix it all together and spoon it into a 1 to 1.5 quart baker.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly.

*Keep in mind that if you used dairy free cheese, it will take longer to melt.

*For a faster cook time, you can heat it in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly until melted.

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Serve with your favorite gluten free crackers or bread. I served mine with both rice crackers and lentil crackers. Enjoy!