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Homemade with Heinen’s: It’s a Family Affair

Homemade with Heinen’s: It’s a Family Affair

The following post, recipes and certain photography were provided by Barrington Illinois resident and owner of One Life Kitchen, Lauren Brynjelsen, and were originally published at

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, we had our daily moments of chaos, but one thing that was always certain was 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) for a family meal. 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 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 dinner on his way home from the office.” On the other hand, perhaps when staying in Chicago it’s more pleasant in the sounds of excitement for wanting to try a new restaurant experience, which, once again, makes me forget about the kitchen that I 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 together, love wins.

Love wins as a mom serves her family 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, 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 Store with 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, but it also allows me to pay digitally (a great feature of shopping here; no dirty credit cards or screens to touch!). As I enter into the small-town grocery store vibe, I am welcomed by such beautiful floral arrangements that I nearly get distracted from 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!

Heinen's Meat Department Case

One tip that I want to offer when shopping, is don’t cut costs on 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 a good meal as much as the quality of wine makes for a second pour. Good, fresh protein (chicken, steak or fish) can turn an average cook into an impressive cook just as much as poor quality can even make a good cook appear as though they need to better their skills. The entrée purchase is where I invest my grocery budget and would strongly recommend that method to anyone.

So what’s for dinner? Today I am sharing a handful of 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 in mind the busy mom, the sometimes-picky child and (dare I say) the spouse eater while dabbling in everything from fresh to sinfully delicious cooking – in other words, something for everyone! Enjoy!

Magnolia Table Cookbook

A Magnolia Table Dinner Menu

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

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

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

When making this meal, start by prepping the meatloaf as this requires the most time to cook (approximately 90 minutes). As you can see from the pictures, I recommend the “mise en place” concept, which is simply having everything out and set in place, making it much easier to add all of your ingredients.

Prepping Food

There really are no tricks to this recipe, in fact, it’s 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 wonderful.

Next is the potato gratin mini stacks! These are a family favorite of ours and go nicely with lots of different dishes. It’s a perfect side dish. When stacking the potatoes, I typically use a muffin pan, but 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 recommend prepping everything before bringing in younger helpers.

Prepping Food

I think dinner is incomplete without a side of vegetables. I selected Green Beans Amandine for this dinner menu. This side dish is a great change-up to your basic green bean recipe and is a crowd-pleaser for holiday dinner parties, too. It’s also another great way to introduce your kids to cooking.

Banana Pudding was the finishing touch to our dinner. The boys helped make this one too after we finished eating our meal. I would not recommend pre-assembling this recipe as the bananas will change color and vanilla wafer will go soft. If you are looking for a fun way to serve these, consider using a masonry jar. We make this recipe with masonry jars a lot at One Life Kitchen for kid’s parties. Not only is it delicious, but it’s a fun simple activity that kids can assemble to their liking so, if you don’t like banana, you can skip it and add more wafers.

Prepping Food

We hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!


Recipe provided courtesy of Magnolia Table Cookbook.
Serves 4-6


  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter
  • ¼ – ½ cup finely chopped onion, to taste
  • 1 ½ lbs. ground beef
  • 1 sleeve (4 oz.) saltiness, crushed
  • 1 ½ cups grated Cheddar cheese (about 6 oz.)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. 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.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the beef, cooled onion, saltine crumbs, Cheddar, eggs and 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.
  4. On a 9×13 inch, or another large baking pan, form the mixture into a roughly 6×9 inch loaf.
  5. Drizzle the ketchup down the center of the loaf and brush it over the top to cover.
  6. Bake until firm (170°F on an instant-read thermometer), about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
  7. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Click Here to Print the Meatloaf Recipe.

Potato Gratin Mini Stacks

Recipe provided courtesy of Magnolia Table Cookbook.
Serves 12


  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly grounded black pepper
  • 2 lbs. small to medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped chives, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray twelve 2 1/2 -inch muffin cups with vegetable oil.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Stir in the cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  3. 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.
  4. Stack the potato slices in the prepared cups. Spoon any remaining cream mixture over the potato stacks. Cover the pan with foil.
  5. 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.
  6. Store leftover potato stacks in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 300°F. oven.

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Potato Gratin Mini Stacks.

Green Beans Amandine

Recipe provided courtesy of Magnolia Table Cookbook.
Serves 4-6


  • 1 ½ lbs. of green beans, snapped
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. dry sherry or sherry vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper


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

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Green Beans Amandine.

Vanilla Banana Pudding

Recipe provided courtesy of Magnolia Table Cookbook.
Serves 6-8


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


  1. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the condensed milk, whole 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.
  2. To assemble the pudding, use a 3-quart trifle bowl or another straight-sided glass bowl. Cover the bottom of 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.
  3. Spoon half of the remaining pudding on top of banana slices to a 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.
  4. Spoon the remaining pudding over the bananas and smooth the top. Cover the pudding with a layer of wafers.
  5. 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.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Vanilla Banana Pudding.

Heinen's Grocery Store

By Heinen's Grocery Store

In 1929, Joe Heinen opened the doors of a small butcher shop on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, aiming to establish himself as the city’s purveyor of quality meats. As customers came into Heinen’s new shop for their meat purchases, they began asking him to carry groceries as well. Joe added homemade peanut butter, pickles and donuts and by 1933, business had grown enough to include a line of produce and canned goods. Heinen’s Grocery Store was born.

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