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This week I decided that we all need some "spicing up".  Now that doesn't mean that things have to be spicy or hot-just jazzing things up so that we aren't using the "same old, same old".

One reader suggested that I go on to slimfast.com for some new ideas.  I'm for anything that gives we home cooks something new to try.  I've been going to www.mixingbowl.com and trying some recipes (or at least ideas) there.

If you're thinking that you need some inspiration in the way of a book-this one is for a very worthy group that works hard for many different areas.  My favorite is their hard work on behalf of displaced youths leaving the foster care system:

 "Orange County Fare," the first cookbook produced by the Junior League of Orange County, Calif., Inc., (JLOCC) in more than 20 years, will debut in November.  Its focus is on fresh, California-style cuisine – colorful dishes easily mastered by the home cook – making it great for personal use or as a gift.

"Orange County Fare" features over 175 recipes provided by JLOCC members, celebrities, chefs, restaurants, and organizations that are unique to the area.  A tour of Orange County will be woven through the book in photography by Marc Weisberg and additional insights in the accompanying text.  The book is priced at $29.95, plus tax, and can be purchased through the website www.jlocc.org or www.OrangeCountyFare.com.

As I've said before, I never seem to actually follow a recipe.  I exchange items, use more of one item, less of another, etc...   What we all need to do to prevent getting bored is not be afraid to think outside of the box.  Try a new vegetable or fruit and try old ones in a new way.

My first suggestion is to clean out your pantry-if you have cans or bags of things that you've forgotten are there, use them up or throw them out.

When I say "clean it out"-I mean take a look and really say "this has been here for months/years, is it still good?"  If it is-then create a new dish or make the one that you bought the product for.  If it isn't good-toss it!

I found a can of enchilada sauce I bought at Big Lots.  Decided this would be a great meal, especially in lieu of the fact that I had leftover chicken in my fridge.  Now this isn't in the least bit new, but it was a great change from using the leftover chicken for the men's brown bag lunches or over a big salad with some homemade muffins or garlic toast.  I served it up with fat-free refried beans and some grilled red peppers and mushrooms.

A few weeks ago another reader asked for something new to serve her picky family.  I suggested lemon chicken.  Not fried, but pan-grilled and I gave my recipe for the sauce using a box of lemon Jell-O.  It is a very fast, tasty and healthy meal.  I broke my "white" rule and served it over jasmine rice made in chicken broth (the sauce uses chicken broth as well) and added julienned carrots, onions and celery in the mix as well.

On Friday-some quick fixes on our everyday foods.

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