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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476 Comments

  1. Karen Autrey says

    Hi there….first let me say how inspired I am by your story. Truly remarkable.

    Next, your recipes are my “go to” for just about everything! I have never been disappointed!

    I do have a question. I am making your potatoes au gratin with bacon and it calls for 1 tablespoon of butter cut into 8 cubes. Just checking if this is correct? Doesn’t seem like enough…thanks in advance for your reply!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your kind words Karen about my story and my recipes! Yes 1 tablespoon is all you need to make it nice and buttery without it swimming in grease. Good luck!

  2. Vernon H. Sans Souci says

    I have just taken up cooking as a hobby at a very advanced age. Your recipes are amazing.and as a retired computer tech, I am most impressed with the design and organization of your web page, especially the links in them to get the best ingredients. Wonderful Site. I’m passing the link around to all friends and family.
    Thanks so much for all of this. May God Bless You and all your loved ones

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Vernon! Thank you so much for taking the time to make my day! I’m so please you find the site design helpful and easy to navigate. I hope you enjoy your new cooking hobby with many new Carlsbad Cravings recipes!

  3. Nancy says

    Hi Jen,
    Love all your recipes, you cook the way my family and I like to eat❤️.
    My question is kinda silly, when making wet burritos at what stage do you add the enchiladas sauce? When your ready to serve?

    • Jen says

      Thanks Nancy, I love hearing that! It is in second part of step 6: Fold sides of foil up around burritos (to keep sauce from escaping) and evenly pour enchilada sauce over burritos then evenly top with one cup cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

  4. Lane Pearson says

    Ginger beef looks incredible! Recipe calls for a cup of cornstarch which seems like a lot, plus the video looks like more flour and less cornstarch? Can’t wait to try it, thank you for all your great recipes!

    • Jen says

      Hi Lane, the recipe is correct as written, I think you’ll love it!

  5. Amy Phillips says

    Hi Jen,
    I have a question for you!!! Did you ever have a different Chinese chicken salad recipe? I could have sworn I got a recipe from your site that was a little different from the one you have now.
    Thanks, Amy

  6. Diane says

    Hi. I recently found your website. You’re an extremely talented cook. We’ve loved everything so far. We tried the Dan Dan Noodles then the Thai Chicken Noodle Soup and they’re all new favorites. I’m planning Thanksgiving with my family and am using your recipes. One recipe that I can’t find is one for Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup. I’ve seen notes made about the ingredients you’ve used but never the recipe. Do you think you could post that recipe as well?

    Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for making my recipes Diane! I do need to post that recipe independently but for you can find it directly incorporated into the Chicken Divan recipe https://carlsbadcravings.com/chicken-divan/:

      2 tablespoons unsalted butter
      2 tablespoon olive oil divided
      1/3 cup all-purpose flour
      1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
      2 cups milk
      1 tablespoon cornstarch
      2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
      1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
      1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
      1 tsp EACH onion pwdr, garlic pwdr, dried parsley
      1/4 teaspoon pepper
      1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
      1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
      1/2 cup sour cream

      Melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour then cook, while stirring for 1 minute. Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in remaining 1 ½ cups chicken broth and 1 cup of milk. Whisk cornstarch with remaining 1 cup milk and add to skillet followed by Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, chicken bouillon and all spices/seasonings.
      Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly then reduce heat to a simmer, whisking often until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in ½ cup cheddar until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted. Whisk in sour cream until blended. Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli and spread into an even layer. Top with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese.

  7. Marie says

    Hi I lived in Carlsbad in the fifties and sixties when it was truly a paradise. I surfed at Tamarack when it was a dirt road up top and no cement to be seen. Will try your enchilada recipe.

    • Jen says

      That is amazing Marie! We love Tamarack and are there often. I hope you enjoy exploring my recipes!

  8. Jocelyn Elliott says

    I love all your ideas, love to cook and love spices, being adventurous is no problem but I need ideas. I have every spice on your list thankyou

    • Jen says

      It sounds like we are kindred cooking spirits, welcome!

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