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. Sue Miller says

    A few days ago I saw your recipe for honey glazed salmon and thought it looked delish ! I am new to liking salmon so I thought I would try it.. It was such an easy recipe and I already had all the ingredients. I was wonderful! I loved it. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Sue, I’m so please you found it easy and delicious, win-win! I hope you enjoy my other salmon recipes as well!

  2. Andrea L. Cashman says

    Hi Jen. I came across your blog while searching for pork loin recipes. I was surprised when I saw name. Live in ct for a long time now but very strong connections to north county. My first apartment on oak street, Carlsbad, grandmother was in Oceanside, uncle in vista, my brothers in Fallbrook. Happy to hear you are thriving, not just surviving. I have some dear friends who are transplant recipients. One recently received a lung, another a liver.

    God bless you and merry Christmas

    • Jen says

      I’m sorry I’m slow to respond Andrea – we just moved and things have been crazy! That is amazing you know Carlsbad/North County so well, we feel so blessed to live here. That is also unique to know so many transplant recipients – it truly is a miracle! I hope you enjoy my recipes, God bless!

  3. Rainy says

    Hello Jen,
    I use your website all the time and would LOVE an actual cookbook. Are you planning to publish one in the future? I love your website but often wish I could just grab a book and flip through.
    Thank you for many a delicious dinner!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Rainy, I’m honored you’re enjoying my recipes! I don’t have any plans for a cookbook, but I’m playing with the idea of made-to-order books. Would something like that interest you?

  4. Janet grayson says

    Your recipes look delicious and rhe pictures are wonderful. But since the recipe is impossible to access its basically a waste of my time and yours.

    • Jen says

      All you have to do is click the “jump to recipe button” (hold it down) at the top of each post and it skips directly to the recipe.

  5. Erma says

    I am putting together a cookbook for family and friend of my tried and true recipes of 50+ years. Some of yours have become favorites. May I include them with credit to your site? I was so happy to find your site. I love your flavorful recipes.

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! I’m honored to be included!

  6. Carolyn brill says

    You are amazing, I love your instagram posts. I am an east coaster living in Mystic CT and my son lives in Carlsbad. I was so hoping that you had a food delivery service as he and his partner have a new baby and they would love all your culinary creations!
    Keep cooking. You are so talented!
    Carolyn Brill

    • Jen says

      Thanks for following along Carolyn! That is so exciting you are going to have a grandbaby – congratulations! I only make food for the website, unfortunately, but all the best to your son and his partner!

  7. John Skelly says

    Your enthusiasm is freakin contagious! 🙂

    Your content is wonderful and your posts show there’s something special with you, your story and things that grab your attention. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      You are so thoughtful John, thank you so much for your kind words and for following along!

  8. Tracy says

    I think your recipes are amazing. My kind of food and easy to make. Seriously time for a cookbook! I would pre order it!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Tracy, I’m honored to be foodie “kindred spirits!”

  9. Jennifer Leean says

    Hi Jen
    I just served your Bruschetta Cheese Ball at a party at my house and it was a huge hit! I had several people asking me for the recipe with one person telling me that if they didn’t have to go home, they would have stayed at my house and “stuffed their face” longer. It is delicious!!! Your life story is incredible and wonderful! I too have experience with serious health problems and I toot turned to the Lord for help. And He did!
    Prayers to you and keep up with the delicious recipes!

    • Jen says

      I’m so pleased it was a hit, love the visual of others “stuffing their face!” May God continue to bless you with his love and strength! xo

  10. Kay L Bantz says

    I love your site, and use it often. It is creative, practical for the way I cook, and photography is beautiful. However, you may want to look at your strong stand on washing mushrooms. I am not a fanatic about organic or anything, really, except that in the growing season in Wisconsin, I prefer local. Also, I am rather fanatic about spraying all veggies with vinegar to kill germs and then a good long rinse under tap water first and filtered water second. That said, my favorite sources for recipes and personalities was America’s Test Kitchen and a spin off, J. Kenji Lopez Alt. If you trust these sources, please open and read what Kenji (his site is serious eats, and his wonderful book is THE FOOD LAB) said about mushroom cleaning: https://www.seriouseats.com/how-to-clean-and-chop-mushrooms I couldn’t eat a mushroom just wiped off when I see all the dirt on them. I also cut off about 1/4 inch of stem. Thank you for all of your experiments and sharing them with, I’m guessing, a larger and larger audience. I love that I can save my recipes as well!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Kay, I love learning, so I really appreciate you sharing and setting me straight!

  11. Kristi Jenkins says

    Hi Jen! I absolutely love your recipes – I’ve made several and have gotten my colleague, who hates to cook, hooked on them, too! I’m about to cook a few meals to take over for my daughter, who’s a junior nursing student over at Gonzaga in Spokane, WA and I was wondering if you had any suggestions on which recipes might do well to freeze after prep and reheat for a quick meal when she’s been at clinicals all day? I was thinking maybe the Mexican Chicken and Rice Skillet, but hoping you might have other suggestions! TIA!

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