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No matter how it’s done, a meal followed by a game is a winning combination.

Tonight, while my husband and brother-in-law dined out before going to the Thunder game, Kyle and I did it our own way– by taking advantage of my husband’s absence to enjoy a meal my husband doesn’t like:  Red Swiss Steak, Re-baked Potatoes and Cream-style Corn.  And tonight I lucked out.  Because the potatoes turned out nice and creamy when usually I struggle to make them as good as Mom’s.

Kyle and I were lucky in other ways too, since we shared our meal with Bryan and Amy, who ended up bringing along Amy’s new board game to play after dinner.  We had so much fun — one minute eating good food around the table, the next wiping it clean to set up Amy’s game.

It made me wonder how many times my children ate this same meal at Mom’s —  followed by a game.  Too many to count.  Though usually the game was some sort of card game — the favorites being either Ten-To-One or Nasty Canasta, depending on how many card-players there were.

Life without Mom does get easier, though it doesn’t happen sequentially.  Because there are times — like this week —  when I really wish she could have been here to tell me “things were going to be all right.”   And maybe it was this desire  — to tell myself that “things” were going to be all right — that actually inspired tonight’s menu.

We take comfort where and how we can — and tonight, I took mine in Mom’s tried and true combination of Red Swiss Steak and Re-baked Potatoes.

Miss you Mom.

Red Swiss Steak

Feeds 4 to 8  Preparation time 20 minutes/Oven time 90 minutes

2 lbs cubed round steak
2 Tbs cooking oil
1/2 cup flour
1 onion sliced thin (microwaved 70 seconds on high to soften)
1 12-oz can tomato paste
2 cups water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat oil in skillet over medium heat; flour and brown steak on both sides.  Cook onions in microwave and mix remaining ingredients for sauce.  In a greased casserole dish with a lid, add a half cup of sauce, half the meat, all the onions topped with another half cup of sauce, followed by the remaining meat and sauce.  Cover and bake.

Re-Baked Potatoes

Serves 6 to 8  Preparation time:  15 minutes/ Cooking time:  1.5 hours

4 baking-size potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened (I use the kind with chives)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 to 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper (begin with 1 tsp of salt & 1/4 tsp pepper, then adjust to taste)

To Bake: Preheat oven to 425.  Wash and dry potatoes.  Pierce with fork, three times on each side and coat with olive oil.  Place in pre-heated oven (without foil) and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes — or until potatoes are tender when pinched (using a potholder).  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.

To Re-bake: Slice potatoes horizontally into two even portions.  Scoop potato into a large bowl filled with  butter, cream cheese and sour cream.  Place empty potato jackets onto a foil-lined baking pan.   Add milk, salt and pepper and mix with an electric beater, until smooth and creamy, having the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Add more milk if necessary.  Adjust seasonings.  Then scoop potato filling back into jackets and top with cheese.  Return to oven for final baking — 10 minutes at 350 or until cheese is melted.

Preparation Note:  These can be made in advance up to the point of re-baking — though if the potatoes are cool, the re-bake will take longer — up to 20 minutes.