Food Columnist Judi Leaming says books make great gifts — especially Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. She shares their recipes for Creamed Eggs on Biscuits, Beef and Rice Skillet, and Stuffed Corn Bake.


Recently we had overnight guests and I just happened to grab Gooseberry’s newly published "Quick and Easy Christmas" when I was trying to decide what I could quickly prepare for breakfast. I wanted to be able to do most of the prep work in advance and Creamed Eggs on Biscuits seemed to meet my requirements. You may want to place this at the top of your Christmas morning menu because it certainly pleased us.

When you have too much to do and don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing dinner, Beef & Rice Skillet provides a tasty meal.  This makes use of one of the Rice-a-Roni products that I tend to forget are even on the shelves near rice in the supermarket.

Stuffed Corn Bake, yet another Gooseberry Recipe, is almost too easy to be believed because it has so few ingredients and probably most of them are already in your kitchen. I used the Pepperidge Farm bag of stuffing mix  because that is what I had on hand but I probably should have used Stove Top. I suspect you’ll find that this becomes a family favorite as it should appeal to all ages.

I want to remind you to be on the alert NOW for great sale prices on some basic items such as butter, flour and chocolate chips that you’ll need for your holiday baking. (I store extra flour in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.) And this is definitely the time to grab several bags of fresh cranberries and throw them into your freezer because once Christmas passes, you probably won’t see them on the produce shelves again until next November.

Check to make sure that your baking soda and baking powder are relatively fresh. I found the following information about testing to determine the freshness of these products on www.joyofbaking.com.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder — To test baking powder's effectiveness: mix 1 teaspoon (5 grams)  baking powder with 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water and the mixture should bubble immediately. Store in a cool dry place and it should be replaced every 6 to 12 months.

To test baking soda's effectiveness: mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should bubble immediately.

Creamed Eggs on Biscuits
12 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1/2 cup butter
3 to 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
8-ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Crisply cooked bacon, drained and crumbled
Warm biscuits (you’ll find great Pillsbury biscuits in the freezer case at the supermarket!)
Slice eggs both eggs with an egg slicer or knife; set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour just until bubbly. Slowly stir in evaporated milk and blend until smooth. As sauce thickens add enough milk to get a desired “gravy” consistency. Stir in eggs and cheese; heat through just to melt cheese. Serve this over split warm biscuits and top with crumbled bacon.  Serves 6 to 8.  (Fresh citrus fruit cup goes nicely with this!)

Beef & Rice Skillet
1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
2 tablespoons butter
1 (6.9-ounce) package beef-flavored rice-vermicelli mix
1 (24-ounce) container low-sodium beef broth
1 (8-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, chopped and drained
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in dry rice mix and cook until golden, stirring occasionally. Slowly and carefully pour in the beef broth, seasoning packet from the rice mix, mushrooms and water chestnuts. Add browned ground beef; reduce heat and cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Serves 4 to 6 depending on your side dishes.

Stuffed Corn Bake (a side dish)
1 14 3/4-ounce) can creamed corn
1 (11-ounce) can vacuum packed corn niblets
1 (6-ounce) package chicken-flavored stuffing mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350-degrees and lightly grease and set aside a 2-quart baking dish. In a bowl combine all ingredients and stir until well mixed. Spoon into prepared baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes until bubbly.  Serves 6 to 8.