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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Mojitos with author Amanda Usen!

Into The Fire
Amanda Usen

Jackson Calabrese has a lot of nerve. He beat Lila Grant in the Culinary Academy competition using her recipes. Now, he’s opening a restaurant and wants her help? Fine, she'll fix his menu, but it's going to cost him.

Heir to the Calabrese restaurant empire, Jackson can buy anything he wants, except creativity, so he buys Lila's instead. He can craft perfect paella, but to take New York by storm he needs her innovative spark.

Skillets aren't the only things hot in the kitchen, and an uneasy truce ignites into passion. They’re great in bed, but Jackson doesn't trust her, and Lila is contemplating revenge. The restaurant opening approaches, the menu is completed, and the tables are set for one final act of betrayal. How can love bloom in the midst of such a hot mess?

**Guest Post**

Many strawberries and limes were harmed in the making of this post! Several stalks of rhubarb were chopped. Mint leaves were muddled. Rum was slugged. All in the name of summer fun!

Disclaimer: Lila and Jack in INTO THE FIRE don’t drink Strawberry Rhubarb Mojitos. They quaff another fine cocktail called The Blackberry Smash, but that recipe is already up on my site (and so delicious!). I wanted to create something new for Fictional Candy, and my neighborhood BFF Melissa has been on a mojito kick for at least a year, maybe more. We sat down at the kitchen table the other afternoon and started mixing. And sipping. And mixing. Since she’s a mojito connoisseur, I knew if I could please her, I was set!

After much mostly-sober deliberation, we came up with a sweet, just tart enough, refreshing summer cocktail that can be slung together with a minimum of fuss and muss. Here’s how you do it:

First you must make your rhubarb simple syrup. I recommend doing this a few hours ahead of time so it can chill. But what did *I* do? I set up an ice bath with two metal bowls and ice water in between, so I could cool off the simple syrup A.S.A.P. Planning ahead is awesome, but I wanted a cocktail!

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

1 ½ cups water
1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup rhubarb, diced into small pieces

Bring to a simmer to dissolve sugar. Simmer about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced to 2 cups. Strain out rhubarb. (It was too good to throw away, so we ate it. You could mix it into apple sauce, strawberry jelly, or vanilla ice cream. Love rhubarb!)
Cool the syrup.

Strawberry Rhubarb Mojito

In a tall glass:
Muddle 3 lime wedges (about ¼ lime)
10 mint leaves
3 Tablespoons rhubarb simple syrup

What does muddle mean? In my house, it means smash around with a wooden spoon. Melissa has a fancy mortar and pestle mojito doogie. Basically, you want to smoosh the juice out of the lime, release the oil from the zest, and bruise the mint leaves.

Add 2 ounces white rum.
Fill glass with ice.
Add ½ cup club soda.
Toss in one strawberry, small diced
INTO THE FIRE will heat you up, a Strawberry Rhubarb Mojito will cool you down….

I set most of my romances in the kitchen because I met my husband in culinary school. We love to cook for each other, family, and friends. In fact, he’s outside right now setting up to roast a pig for the whole darn neighborhood! Food, fun, and romance are three of my favorite things, and that’s what I bring to my stories. In INTO THE FIRE, Lila and Jack feud and flirt their way to a happily ever after. They heat things up in the kitchen and the bedroom, and I bet if you spend some time with them, you’ll want to do the same. J

Thanks for stopping in to visit today! I love festive beverages. Do you have a favorite drink? I’d love to hear about it!

 Book Information

Title: Into the Fire
Author: Amanda Usen
Genre: Romance
Length: 201 pages
Release Date: June 10, 2013
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-62266-135-0
Imprint: Indulgence

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Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast, and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. She married him after graduation in a lovely FrenchQuarter restaurant in New Orleans, and they spent a few years enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy. Now they live in Western New York with their three children, one hamster, two guinea pigs, a tortoise, and a new-to-them beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own hot chefhusband.

Want chimichurri, chocolate cake or Chicken Alighieri? Visit Amanda at, where you can find recipes for many of the yummy dishes in her books. She can also be found on Facebook ( and Twitter (!/AmandaUsen) if you want to chat about romance, writing, or recipes.

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