It's National Family Meals Month

Well, it’s September and all God’s people said?  Amen.  I fully realize that the hot weather isn’t over but September does bring the hope of autumn.  And by this time of the year, I think it goes without saying that we are hoping and dreaming of fall.
 
September also brings with it the beginning of football season.  As tempted as I am to discuss the schedule, players, coaches, and let’s be honest, the game day outfit and tailgating food, I’ll save that for another day. 
 
My thoughts for today focus on September as National Family Meals Month.   I’ve often wondered why we need “national” days and months but I’ve come to realize that we all can use a reminder every now and then.  As we head back to school and into the holiday months, it’s easy to forget how important it is that we sit down, face-to-face around the table and share a meal with our families. 
 
I’m sure that you are familiar with the research that has emerged over the past years stating that family meals are good for the brain and health of family members; reduces behavior problems; lowers substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression; boosts grade-point averages and self-esteem; and lowers the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents.  I’m not sure what else families could do that takes only about an hour a day and packs such a punch.
 
Now, I’m not going to sit here all high and mighty and tell you that it’s easy to have a meal together every night because some days, it’s just not.  I remember when the children were young and going twenty different directions. Getting a healthy meal on the table was close to a minor miracle.  But when I look back, it was worth the time and effort that went into those family meals.  
 
My good friend, Dawn Smith, often quotes her momma saying, “I’m happiest when my children’s feet are under my table.”  How true that is.  Now that my children are grown, I’m still beyond thrilled when those feet come home because that means there are stories to be shared, thoughts to be pondered and a legacy of love to be left there.   
 
One of my children’s favorite comfort meals involves this Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf.  While meatloaf might be considered the underdog in the culinary world, this one rises above the rest and is indeed a family favorite of ours.  So why not whip up this meatloaf, add some mashed potatoes, peas, and macaroni and cheese.  I guarantee those children’s feet will come running!  
 
Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
Ingredients:
½ pound ground chuck
½ pound ground round
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 (8-ounce) package sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup bread crumbs, toasted
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup barbeque sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 (3-ounce) can French fried onions
 
 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck and ground round along with the next 9 ingredients, mixing well. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and mustard. Stir 1/4 cup ketchup mixture into meat mixture, reserving remaining ketchup mixture.  Press meat mixture into a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or shape into a loaf and place on a rack of a broiler pan. Spread remaining ketchup mixture over loaf. Bake 40 minutes. Top with French fried onions; bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.
 
 
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