Food Columnist Judi Leaming turns to Gooseberry Patch's new cookbook "Rush-Hour Recipes" for Sausage & Spanish Rice Skillet, 22-Second Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing, and Better than Brownies.

It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to share Gooseberry Patch recipes with you but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading them. Just before we left for Florida in January, the kind ladies at “the Patch” sent me a preview copy of one of their newest cookbooks, “Rush-Hour Recipes” and I was so inspired by the recipe for Sausage & Spanish Rice Skillet that I actually stopped reading and prepared this for lunch because I had everything that I needed — and just perusing the recipe made me hungry. I’m (almost) ashamed to admit that the recipe notes that this serves four but we each had hearty helpings, seconds and were left with only enough leftover for lunch on another day.

Had I planned ahead and combined this with 22-Second Salad for a well-balanced meal, the above recipe really would have served four very adequately. This salad recipe does take slightly longer than 22 seconds to prepare, but not much longer. It keeps well and you might just find yourself eating a big bowl of this for your lunch.

I had some serious doubts about the recipe called Better Than Brownies but my curiosity was piqued and I decided to try it. There can be no doubt that this is a “rush-hour” recipe and it tasted good and you don’t even need a mixer to make it. This is more a dessert than a brownie but I do believe you’ll like it.

Sausage & Spanish Rice Skillet
1 pound smoked pork sausage links, cut into one-inch pieces*
2 to 3 teaspoons cooking oil (optional if you are using a non-stick skillet)
1 1/2 cups instant rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup mild or hot chunky salsa
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown sausage (using oil if needed). Drain off oil if you have used it. Meanwhile prepare rice according to package directions, using broth instead of water. Add prepared rice and salsa to sausage in the skillet; sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook over low heat for a few minutes — just long enough until cheese melts.

*I used a Johnsonville turkey sausage link

22-Second Salad
1 (16-ounce) package three-color coleslaw mix
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup (2.5-ounce bag) dry-toasted sunflower seeds
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing to blend well. Cover and chill. Make Dressing ahead of time to allow flavors to blend. At serving time, drizzle dressing over salad and toss to mix. Serves 8 to 10.

Poppy Seed Dressing
1 cup canola oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
Mix ingredients together (adding vinegar to suit your taste) in a covered container; shake to dissolve sugar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Better Than Brownies
1 (3.4-ounce) box cook and serve chocolate pudding mix (not instant!)
2 cups milk
1 (18-1/2-ounce) box dark chocolate cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare dry pudding mix with mix according to package directions over medium-low heat in a large saucepan, stirring often; cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in dry cake mix. Spread batter into a lightly greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Evenly sprinkle nuts and chocolate bits over the top of the batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely before serving.