I have to apologize for being such a slacker blogger lately. I had grand plans of having recipes ready to post before I went on vacation but time seemed to slip away from me. So, I am back home and ready to continue blogging delicious, healthy recipes this year! I fell off the healthy bandwagon while on vacation but want to jump back on and keep exploring recipes that lack calories and fat but not flavor. I am excited to share some new, delicious recipes coming this week! 
 
Thanks to my New Year’s resolution I have loved several new recipes that have quickly become family favorites. The Margarita Chicken recipe is healthy and was a huge hit on our vacation. During the week we are gone each of us sisters take a night to cook (for 18 adults and 22 kids)– making it so we only cook one time in 7 days-love it! I chose to cook the Margarita Chicken and it got raving reviews. We all voted it will come back each year as a new family favorite. If you have not tried this recipe, you need to give a try!
 

 
If you have read my blog for awhile you know about my family’s obsessive nature with food. Our vacations revolve around great food and funny traditions involving food. We always do a taste off of a food item when we are together and then we always try new restaurants and pretend we are food critiques. We like to rate different restaurants and love to all give our feedback. We are a loud Italian family with very outspoken people so it becomes quite the debate when we try and analyze the different restaurants and menu items. We love the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and like to give Guy Fieri a run for his money 😉 Before we go on our trips we always check and see if there is a Triple D restaurant in the area we are going. We were excited that in San Diego there were a few to choose from.
 
If you live in San Diego and want a good, unique pizza option from a LITERAL dive (beware..the joint might scare you like it did me), the Pizzaria Luigi makes really great pizzas. I got the Pear, Caramelized Onion & Gorgonzola pizza and it was really good. I love pizza with unusual ingredients. My husband liked the normal meat-man pizza and I also liked their artichoke chicken with sun-dried tomato pizza. If you want a pizza joint with abnormal, but great pizzas, this is a place for you! We gave it a 6 out of 10 stars 😉 Another fun thing we did was chose a restaurant and only ordered appetizers for dinner (not recommended for anyone on a diet but really fun). We chose Texas Road house and rated their fried pickles and buffalo boneless wings their best appetizers. Super fun date idea 😉
 
Now..onto my FAVORITE restaurant review of our trip (and really the best in many years). If you live near Oceanside CA you MUST visit the Rockin’ Baja Lobster Cantina. It is on a small pierre over looking the harbor. It is a small, quaint joint and more than half of the restaurant is a bar. My family and I don’t drink, but there was plenty of seating outside overlooking the harbor or inside next to the salsa bar (bonus). By the time we were leaving the restaurant I could not stop raving about the food. The rest of the week I was telling people at the pool, on the elevator and through InstaGram about this place. If you live anywhere near Oceanside (or I think they have one in Newport), this is a place you must visit! Now..what to order? Let me give you a few tips. First..the parking at Oceanside Harbor is free which is a huge bonus in CA. So, park in the parking lot and walk down the pier. It is the restaurant just after the lighthouse. Between the hours of 3 p.m.-6 p.m. it is happy hour (Mon.-Thurs.?) which means all of their street tacos are $2.50 and their fish tacos are only $3.50 each. Now, these fish tacos are not just any fish tacos. They are THE BEST fish tacos I have ever had in my entire life (and I have had my fair share of fish tacos!). They use white, grilled fish, plenty of slaw, fresh tomatoes and avocado and smother the entire taco in a kickin’ cilantro dressing. I can’t even tell you how amazing they were. My eyes were rolling behind my head as I was eating them–unreal good (especially for the price!). We then ordered 8-10 street tacos (pork, carnitas, carne asada, barbacoa, etc.) and each one was marinated and cooked to perfection. We loved ever single one!! Besides all of this, it even gets better. There is a FREE salsa bar. Not just any salsa bar. A salsa bar with homemade tortilla chips and 6-8 different types of salsa. Their mango salsa is the best I have ever had and is even better than homemade. YUMMY! Like I said, I can’t stop talking about this place. I will stop for your sakes, but if you want an inexpensive and ‘rockin’ new restaurant to try in California, this is the one for you!!
 
Besides dinner entrees we were a tad obsessed about the sweet treats all week. After being more conscious of not eating, or baking as much sweets the past two months, I think I was on a sugar high all week. My new found addiction though is a strange one. Generally I could take or leave sugar cookies but for some reason these past weeks they have become a new favorite. My sister made these Sugar Cookie Bars that were amazing! I had to have the leftovers taken out of my site or I would have eaten the rest of the pan for breakfast. They are awesome and SO much easier than rolling out individual cookies. I am bookmarking this recipe for next Valentines for sure!
 
 
If you are a sugar cookie connoisseur and want the most amazing sugar cookie on the planet…you must visit St. George Utah. There is a place called The Sugar Cookie (clever name I know 🙂 and it is completely and scarily addicting. Now..they have two different types of sugar cookies. They have a cakey, puffy cookie which is okay but not great. And then..they have a Old Fashion, more traditional sugar cookie that is moist, dense and perfect. Top this cookie with their heavenly frosting of choice (lemon, almond, cherry, orange, peanut butter, buttercream, chocolate, etc.) and you have a cookie that is too good to be true. They have a peanut butter cookie with chocolate frosting that is awesome! And..a molasses cookie with cream cheese frosting. Let’s just say in the 3 days we were in St. George we went there four times (scary!!). So yummy.
 
I think that’s all folks 😉 Thanks for listening and letting me rant and rave about the awesome past weeks we had in sunny California. I am back in the saddle again and excited for a great week of blogging 😉 Thanks for reading!
 
~Shandra
 
Here is the recipe for the Sugar Cookie Bars if you are interested:
 
Sugar Cookie Bar
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup butter, softened
  3. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  6. 1 tsp. vanilla
  7. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  8. 1 tsp. baking powder
  9. 2 1/2 cup flour
Frosting
  1. 3 sticks butter, softened
  2. 1 1/2 tsp. butter flavoring
  3. 3-4 Tbls. milk or cream
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Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar and egg until nice and frothy-about 4 minutes. Then, add the vanilla and almond extract and beat for 1 minute more. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix them around so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Press the dough in a large jelly roll (cookie sheet) pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let the pan cool completely before frosting.
  2. Cream together the butter, butter flavoring and milk until smooth. Add 1 1/2-2 lbs. powdered sugar and continue to whip until light and airy--about 2-3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and food coloring if wanted and then spread evenly over the bars once they have cooled.
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