Lauren Allen makes it easier to craft delicious meals from scratch with her food blog and new cookbook, Tastes Better From Scratch: Easy Recipes For Everyday Life.
We’ve all heard the saying, “everything tastes better made from scratch.” Food blogger and cookbook author Lauren Allen grew up on that motto, thanks to her mom. Allen has continued this cooking motto through her food blog, Tastes Better From Scratch.
“It was kind of built out of a frugal budget that my mom would make everything from scratch,” Allen explains. “I know when we were younger, she would grind her own wheat, and she canned everything. Like canned apple sauce, salsa, tomatoes, peaches, and things like that.” Allen further explains how her parents were also total foodies. “They really appreciated good food, and my mom really enjoyed cooking.”
In college, Allen studied journalism, with an emphasis on new media design, but she also loved to cook, taking after her mom. “I was desperately wanting to document recipes,” Allen says. “My mom didn’t have recipes necessarily written down; she was just a good cook. So I would ask her to walk me through exactly what she put in whatever recipe she made. And so, I felt like it was my job to document our recipes somewhere online.”
In 2009 she started her blog, Tastes Better From Scratch. It started out as a fun hobby while she raised a family, but eventually, she learned how she could expand the blog through Google ads and more. Her husband encouraged her and they invested money into the blog and turned it into what it is today. Tastes Better From Scratch emerged as a way to preserve Allen’s family recipes and has evolved over the years into a successful food blog and now a cookbook.
Tastes Better From Scratch isn’t just Allen’s family recipes though. It’s kind of a mixture, she explains. “For the most part it’s just my inspiration,” Allen explains. “I have a huge list that I keep and I sort by seasonal items and anytime I’m inspired, which could be literally watching a movie and they make something I’m like, ‘oh my gosh that looks amazing,’ or it could be [my family and I] eat out on Friday and Saturday nights so I’m always getting inspiration.” Allen and her husband have also traveled all over the world, having lived in Mexico and Spain and gathered tons of recipes to add to her repertoire and help others make delicious meals from scratch.
“I want to make sure every recipe on there is one I’ve made, I’ve tested and I can back it up and know it’s great,” Allen says. Her deep passion for her recipes and the success of her blog has allowed Allen to publish her first cookbook. “I’ve known the type of cookbook I wanted to do so figuring out the path that I wanted to take to get there,” Allen says. “It’s called Easy Recipes For Everyday Life, I wanted it to be the go-to cookbook for every recipe that you can count on.”
Lauren Allen’s blog, Tastes Better From Scratch, has all the recipes you could ever need and more, plus her new cookbook, Tastes Better From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Everyday Life, is available everywhere books are sold.
See below for Lauren Allen's Crispy Southwest Wraps recipe or she also shared her Harvest Bowl and Chicken Enchilada Soup recipes.
Crispy Southwest Wrap
Total time: 25 minutes
1 pound ground beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2½ teaspoons chili powder
1½ teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons water
15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn canned or frozen
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 cup cooked rice (leftover rice works great!), Mexican, white, brown, or rice pilaf
1½ cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese (or Monterey or pepper-jack)
½ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
6–8 large flour tortillas
- Add the ground beef to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and crumble until browned. Drain grease.
- Season with a little salt and pepper and add chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and water. Stir to combine.
- Add black beans, corn, bell pepper, and onions and toss to combine. Saute for a 2–3 minutes.
- Warm the rice. Layer tortilla with a handful of cheese evenly spread across the tortilla.
- Add a small scoop of rice, placing it in a line along one end of the tortilla.
- On top of the rice add a few small dollops of sour cream, and a spoonful of the beef filling. Starting at that end, roll the tortilla up, folding in the sides like a burrito.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil to a skillet or spray the skillet generously with cooking spray. Place the wraps seam side down in the greased skillet.
- Gently brush the tops of the wraps lightly with oil, or spray them with cooking spray. Turn the wraps every minute or two until they are golden and crispy on all sides.
- Serve warm, with salsa and/or a creamy cilantro dipping sauce.
Photography: courtesy Lauren Allen and Tastes Better From Scratch