Hey There, I’m Jen

Hi, I’m Jen and I live in Carlsbad, California (north San Diego), with my husband, Patrick, and my furry, four legged daughter, Kiwi, and together we WELCOME YOU to Carlsbad Cravings!!! I’m a cystic fibrosis survivor, lung & kidney transplant recipient, LOVER of life and FOOD!

At Carlsbad Cravings (est. 2014), you will find only my tried and true daringly delicious recipes with big, BOLD flavors – or what I like to describe as extraordinary flavors out of everyday ingredients. My #1 goal is to create the best version of every recipe (in my opinion), whether it’s Mexican, Italian, Asian or Greek. And if it’s not the best, then it doesn’t get shared! So, you can cook with confidence from my website, and hopefully you’ll think each recipe is “the best” too and discover many new favorites!

How it began

Some people escape in dreams of sandy beaches and sunny skies, I escape in dreams of mangos, chipotle peppers and bacon.  My creativity as a former interior designer flourishes in the kitchen as I find something so satisfying in creating delicious, flavorful (spices are my forte!), fresh food…and then eating it!
As Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:

“Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty. …” or something delicious!

I have been cooking and creating new recipes almost every day of the week since I got married in 2006 (see our love story here) and even created my own binder long before Carlsbad Cravings was born (see recipe binder below). When I was in desperate need of a kidney transplant and would come home from work exhausted with legs and feet so swollen I could only wear sandals and skirts (none of my shoes or pants would fit!), all l wanted to do was cook. Cooking and creating reinvigorated my exhausted self by feeding my mind, body and soul.

After I was blessed with new-found energy from my kidney transplant in October 2013 thanks to my doner sister (my lung transplant was in 1999), my doctor cautioned me about going back to work when I was so immune-suppressed. At that point, I was wondering what to do when my sister-in-law suggested I start a food blog. The words pierced my soul and I knew that was what I was supposed to do. I researched how to start a cooking site, how to turn it into a living and then I jumped in and never looked back!

Since launching Carlsbad Cravings in February 2014, I have shared over a thousand recipes that have reached over 140 million readers. I am honored every day to be invited into your homes. Thank you for making my recipes, trusting my recipes, leaving comments and for following along! You are the reason I’m allowed to do what I do! xo

Getting started – What seasonings to stock

To make every recipe the best version of itself, I rely heavily on seasonings. Seasonings MAKE a recipe! To that end, many of my recipes look like they have many ingredients, but often most of them are just dump-in spices, so please don’t be intimidated. I cook with the same spices all of the time, so once you purchase them, you’ll have everything you’ll need! Here are the pantry spices I recommend (you can purchase them little by little):

jump to recipe button

To help readers succeed and eliminate any guesswork, I include detailed tips and tricks in every recipe post. If you just want the recipe, you can use the “jump to recipe” button located at the top of every post to skip directly to the recipe. With that, everyone wins! Now, I hope you enjoy exploring my site and hopefully will create your own recipe binder full of Carlsbad Cravings favorites!

Want to Know More?

If you are curious about my journey with cystic fibrosis, my lung transplant, kidney transplant, love story
and more of my life, click on the links below:

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  1. Greg Tatom says

    I loved your story and couldn’t resist signing up. I too love to cook, but most of my cooking is on a Green Egg. I just can’t not read a recipe and determine if I can make it on an Egg. I found you when I was researching Huli Huli chicken recipes. Looking forward to getting to know you and your recipes.

    – Green Egg Greg

    • Jen says

      Hey Green Egg Greg! I am so glad you found me and I hope you find recipes that you absolutely love!

  2. Tori Miller says

    I love your recipes and understand your passion. If I can’t create in my garden the kitchen is the next place I go. I never used recipes until I retired and had the time to slow down and read. You are an amazing person to just keep on going.Bravo! Love conquers all

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Tori! I love that cooking is a great creative outlet for you! I appreciate you and hope you are doing well!

  3. Tammi Hild says

    I have been meaning to write a note for the longest time. When I want a recipe I know my family and I will like, that I most likely will have all of the ingredients including herbs/spices for, I rely on Carlsbad Cravings! I recommend your website to everyone. Thank you for your work to consistently supply delicious recipes that the average cook can make successfully. I have even become a fan of oregano–your favorite, it seems! I rarely used it before cooking with your recipes; it has now become a “go to” herb.

    Thanks again!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Tammi! I appreciate your support so much! I am glad that you are loving the recipes and oregano!

  4. Heather Franklin says

    Hi Jen,
    Would you please make a cook book?

    • Jen says

      I think this might be the year!

  5. Andy V says

    Congratulations on your lung and kidney transplant journeys, Jen. I’m a fellow DLT warrior (2016) and found your website by accident when looking for a coconut curry chicken recipe for tonight’s dinner. I like to try new recipes all the time and yours looks like a winner!

    Good cooking and good health to you!

    • Jen says

      Congratulations Andy, I’m so happy for your life changing transplant! I’m just about to celebrate my 24 year DLT anniversary and am so grateful! I’m so happy you stumbled on my site. If you love cooking big flavors, it sounds like you’ve come to the right spot! Praying for your continued health!

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