Homemade with Heinen’s | Cooking With the Brynjelsens, It’s A Family Affair

9 mins read

Over two weeks in to Illinois’ “stay-at-home” order and one thing is clear. Daily homemade meals are a new way of life for those of us who used to rely on open restaurants and easy grab-and-go meals. Families have been cooking up a storm all over town like the Brynjelsens in the Village of Barrington. One Life Kitchen owner and mother-of-five, Lauren Brynjelsen says she’s been cooking her way through some of her favorite cookbooks, including Magnolia Table.

Lauren invites us in to her home as she shares the meaning of cooking with loved ones for Homemade with Heinen’s, our culinary tour of favorite family meals around Barrington.

Cooking with the Byrnjelsens, A Family Affair

by Lauren Brynjelsen, Owner of One Life Kitchen

It’s approaching 4:30 pm as my mom calls me into the kitchen to help her prep for dinner and set the table. Today was my turn to help-out. Growing up in a large family had its daily moments of chaos but one thing for certain is that every day at 5:30 p.m. my eight siblings and I were called to the dinner table (where we each had an assigned seat). I grew up experiencing regular family dinners and table conversations. It was such a natural part of our daily routine. A true norm that I assumed would encompass my adulthood in much the same way.

Fast forward to adulthood…. Hurry up let’s get moving!! We’re going to be late for practice. What are you doing?? – there is no time to eat now!! Let’s just have dad grab some dinner on his way home from the office. OR perhaps when staying in Chicago it’s more pleasant in the sounds of excitement for wanting to try a new restaurant experience that makes me once again forget about the kitchen that I so envisioned I’d be cooking in as I look out the window to the lakefront. The truth is… while family dinners today certainly don’t come close to aligning with how I grew up, the one thing that does remain is the ingredient of love which I still experience when coming together for a family dinner. Whenever a family comes to together, love wins.

Love wins as a mom serves her family a dinner. Love wins as families gather around a table with love and laughter filling the air. Love wins as electronics are temporarily removed from the scene. Love wins when clean up becomes teamwork and love wins with a delightful and yet simple thanks AND YES even in this very rare moment love wins because we have been given this amazing gift of time. I encourage you to treasure this social distancing period by enjoying a home cooked meal.

So today, I make my 2-minute drive down to Heinen’s Grocery, I have just two things in hand. One, my Air Pods, because honestly music makes grocery shopping go so much quicker. The other is my phone. My phone not only has my grocery list in store-layout order, it also allows me to conveniently pay (great feature of shopping here; no dirty credit cards or screens to touch!). As I walk into a small-town grocery store vibe, I am welcomed by such beautiful floral arrangements that I nearly get distracted in my shopping mission.… so yes, even if it’s not on the grocery list, pick up some flowers because the centerpiece makes the table as welcoming as the food itself!!

One tip that I want to offer when shopping, is don’t cut costs on the protein. While you can shop for staple ingredients at a lot of stores, the quality of protein matters and it is worth making a trip to a store like Heinen’s to buy fresh. The quality of the protein makes for the meal as much as the quality of wine makes for a second pour. Good fresh protein (chicken, steak, fish) can turn an average cook into an impressive cook just as much as poor quality can even make a good cook appear as thou they need to better-up their skill. The entrée purchase is where I personally invest my grocery budget and would strongly recommend to anyone.

So what’s for dinner? Today I am sharing some dinner recipes from a woman who I truly admire, Joanna Gaines. Her Magnolia Table Cookbook is a fan favorite of One Life Kitchen as well as my home kitchen. Her recipes keep the busy mom in mind, the sometimes-picky child or (dare I say) spouse eater in mind and dabbles in everything from fresh to sinfully delicious cooking – in other words, something for everyone! Enjoy!

A Magnolia Table Dinner Menu (see recipes below):

  • Green Beans Amandine
  • Potato Gratin Mini Stacks
  • Meatloaf
  • Dessert: Vanilla Banana Pudding

Today’s family Dinner was quite laissez-faire. With the current social isolation in place we are living on no schedules – no set wake up time, no set eating time and from the looking at my boys brushing hair today is also optional.

Taking you through our dinner, I had the help of my entire family.

When making this dinner, start first with prepping the meatloaf as this requires the most time to cook (90 minutes approximately). As you can can see from the pictures, I recommend the mise en place concept – which is simply having everything out and set in place. Much easier to cook this way!

There really is no tricks to this recipe, in fact it is the perfect recipe to introduce your kids to cooking. This is a tried and true basic dish that the whole family will enjoy. The teamwork of my son Aidan and husband Sean helped make this dish.

Next is the potato gratin mini stacks! These are a family favorite of ours and go nicely with lots of different dishes. In other words, a perfect side dish. When stacking the potatoes, I use a muffin pan and when I’m looking for a more elegant presentation, like I often am at One Life Kitchen, I’ll do individual ramekins. Because there is detailed cutting involved in this dish including the option of using a mandolin, I would recommend prepping (some cutting skills needed in this recipe) everything before bringing in younger helpers.

I think dinner is incomplete without a vegetable side. I selected for this dinner menu Green Beans Amandine. Great change up to your basic green bean recipe and is a crowd pleaser for holiday dinner parties. This side dish is another great way to introduce your kids to cooking.

Banana Pudding topped our dinner. The boys helped make this after dinner. I would not recommend pre-assembling as the banana turns color and vanilla wafer goes soft. If you are looking for a fun way to serve these, consider using a masonry jar. We do this recipe with masonry jar a lot at the kitchen for kid’s parties. Fun simple activity that kids can personally assemble to their liking – so if you don’t like banana you can skip the banana and add in more wafers.

We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do and look forward to seeing you soon at One Life Kitchen! Love, The Brynjelsen’s – Sean, Lauren, Morgan, Evan and Aidan

 Brynjelsen Family Favorite Magnolia Table Recipes:

Green Beans Amandine
Serving size: 4-6


  • 1 ½ pounds of green beans, snapped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, milted
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons dry sherry or sherry vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup slice almonds, toasted
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Add the green beans and cook until al dents, 6-8 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
  • Return the saucepan to medium heat. Melt the butter, then add the garlic and sauté until softened, about 30 seconds. Whish in brown sugar, sherry, and cider vinegar. Add the green beans and toss until well coated.
  • Add the almonds, ½ teaspoon salt, and the pepper and toss until well combined. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot.
  • Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Green Bean Amandine Photo from Shop.Magnolia.com.

Potato Gratin Mini Stacks
Serving size: 12


  • Vegetable Oil Spray
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ c heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grounded black pepper
  • 2 pounds small to medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 375. Spray twelve 2 1/2 -inch muffin cups with vegetable oil.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Stir the cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  • Peel the potatoes and very thinly slice them with a mandolin or sharp chef’s knife. Place the slices in a large bowl. Add the cream mixture and gently toss to coat.
  • Stack the potato slices in the prepared cups. Spoon any remaining cream mixture over the potato stacks. Cover the pan with foil.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Top the stacks with the Cheddar. Bake, uncovered, until the cheese is golden brown, and the potatoes are fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve warm.
  • Store leftover potato stacks in a covered container in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 300 oven.

Potato Gratin Mini Stacks Photo by RecipeTinEats.com.

Meat Loaf
Serving Size 4-6


  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup finely chopped onion, to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 sleeve (4 ounces) saltiness, crushed
  • 1 ½ cups grated Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup


  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the beef, cooled onion, saltine crumbs, Cheddar, eggs, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently mix the ingredients together until well blended. Try to keep a light touch and not overwork the mixture.
  • On a 9×13 inch or other large baking pan, for the mixture into a roughly 6×9 inch loaf.
  • Drizzle the ketchup down the center of the loaf and brush it over the top to cover.
  • Bake until firm (170 on an instant-read thermometer), about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
  • Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Dessert: Banana Pudding
Servings: 6-8


  • 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 14 oz can of condensed sweet milk
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 3.4 ounces package of instant vanilla pudding
  • 16 oz tub Cool whip, thawed
  • 11 oz box vanilla wafers
  • 3 bananas sliced, or as needed


  • In an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the condensed milk, regular milk, and pudding mix. Beat on high for about 2 minutes, until very well blended. Add half of the whipped cream and beat just until combined.
  • To assemble the pudding use a 3-quarrt trifle bowl or other straight-side glass bowl. Cover the bottom fo the bowl with vanilla wafers, arranging them in a single layer without overlapping. Spoon about one-third of the pudding on top to a depth of 1 ½ inches. Cover the pudding with a layer of wafers. Arrange a layer of banana slices on top of the wafers.
  • Spoon half of the remaining pudding on top of banana slices to depth of about 1 ½ inches above the first layer. Again, cover the pudding with a layer of wafers and then arrange a layer of banana slices on top.
  • Spoon the remaining pudding over the bananas and smooth the top. Cover the pudding with a layer of wafers.
  • Spoon the remaining whipped cream on top and smooth the surface or use the back of a spoon to form pretty swirls on the surface before serving.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Banana Pudding Photo from The-Girl-Who-Ate-Everything.com.

Lauren Brynjelsen is the owner of One Life Kitchen in the Foundry of Barrington. Lauren takes pride in being a self-taught cook and received her cooking training through private and group culinary classes, boot camps as well as through celebrity chef programs/classes. Lauren’s philosophy on cooking is “keep it simple.” At One Life Kitchen, she offer guests a place where they find cooking confidence and are able to then go home and replicate the dishes for their family and friends to enjoy. Learn more at OneLifeKitchen.com.

Family owned & operated, Heinen’s Grocery is located at 500 N. Hough Street, between E. Main Street and Route 14 in Barrington, Illinois. They’re open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here for the latest on how Heinen’s is serving customers, associates, suppliers and communities during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, visit Heinens.com.

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