Friday, December 20, 2013

What’s Cooking? with Amanda Usen



Where authors, friends and fellow bloggers share their favorite receipes!


clip_image002Amanda 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 French Quarter 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, a crawfish, 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 chef husband.

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

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The Cupcake Seduction

Once upon a time, a romance writer was sitting at her computer writing the beginning of a new novel and craving a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie. Suddenly, her heroine baked cupcakes, awesome cupcakes! Oatmeal Cream Pie Cupcakes! She baked them for the hero, whose fondest memories took place during holiday times with her family where there were plentiful Oatmeal Cream Pies in the pantry! The hero just can’t resist her…cupcakes.


You can read more about those cupcakes and the other desserts Jenna bakes for Roman in SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY (out this spring from Entangled Brazen). Most of the recipes I put in my books are recipes my husband and I make all the time, but not Jenna’s cupcakes. They were born from my craving, and I had every intention of bringing them to life. After a few deliciously imperfect attempts, I did! I created my perfect Oatmeal Cream Pie Cupcake. The cake is toothsome with oatmeal, yet not dense. It hints of cinnamon, but doesn’t come right out and say it. The marshmallow buttercream is sweet…hang on, I’m going to go take another bite so I can describe it better…buttery, fluffy…hang on…creamy and light. The streusel? Holy Santa, my people! In my world, streusel belongs EVERYWHERE, but particularly on this cupcake. Oaty, sugary, and crunchy, it adds intrigue to all the creamy, cakey YUM!


There are three different steps to this process, but they are all pretty easy as long as you have a mixer.


Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 stick (4 ounces) butter, room temperature

6 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons molasses

1 extra-large egg, room temperature (I warmed mine in the shell in hot water)

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup oatmeal

½ cup yogurt (I used vanilla yogurt)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a regular-sized muffin pan with 12 liners.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Add molasses. Combine. Slowly add egg. Combine.
  5. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Combine. Then add oatmeal. Guess what? Combine!
  6. Add 1/3 of the flour and combine. Then add half the yogurt. Combine. Follow it with about half the remaining flour, then the rest of the yogurt, then the rest of the flour, mixing after each addition.
  7. I used an ice cream scoop to plop the thick batter into the cupcake liners, but a spoon will work, too. It wants to be 11 cupcakes, but I made it be 12.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Or until done!

As soon as the cupcakes go into the oven, make the streusel!


2 Tablespoons butter

¼ cup quick oats

¼ cup flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

  1. Pinch ingredients together with your fingers until it is well combined and very crumbly.
  2. Then spread it out on a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Bake at 350 until it is a delicious shade of light brown, about 8 minutes.
  4. Cool and crumble.

When both your cupcakes and your streusel are cool, you can make the divine frosting!


Enough to frost 12 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces), room temperature (although I used salted…and it was GREAT!)

½ cup powdered sugar (2 ½ ounces), measured, then sifted

1 ¼ cup marshmallow fluff (5 ounces)

  1. Cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. I let mine go for a while, and it just kept getting fluffier!
  2. Add marshmallow fluff. Mix until well-combined.

To make the full on Oatmeal Cream Pie Cupcake spectacular, frost the cupcakes with marshmallow frosting. Garnish the tops of the cupcakes with the baked streusel. Eat one immediately, just to make sure they are as good as they look. Then leave the house in a freaking snowstorm to take one to a friend…because they are even BETTER than they look! Okay, that last part is just what happened to me, but I’m so glad I made these cupcakes. The batter is fun to put together, streusel is one of my favorite things on earth, and the marshmallow buttercream is so flippin’ yummy I wanted to stick my face in the bowl. If you make these cupcakes and enjoy them as much as I did, give me a shout out! We can do a virtual fist bump.

A tiny, not-quite-through edits taste of SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY:

Butter, flour, sugar and eggs—simple things. But if she combined them in exactly the right way, he’d have no choice but to hire her. She’d find out everything he knew about recreating a restaurant, then preserve the Cooper legacy and carry on the family tradition. Not only that, she’d finally earn a place at the grown-ups’ table.

A slow smile spread across her face as she decided to make cupcakes, after all. Adult versions of kid desserts were all the rage these days, especially in restaurants like this one. Her desserts were going to be decadent and sensual. Salted caramel. Oatmeal cream. Hot chocolate heaven. She would jog his memory, then she would blow his mind, first with her desserts, then in every way she’d imagined from the first time she had seen him.

Her smile turned into a full-blown, wicked grin, and she laughed softly as she began to crack eggs. The bank had given her parents four months to catch up on payments. She was giving herself a few weeks to learn everything there was to know about rescuing a restaurant…while enjoying a fling with the West Coast’s most notorious playboy. Roman Gallagher wasn’t going to know what hit him, and she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

For anything.

SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY is the second book in my Hot Nights series. I can’t wait to share it with readers, but until it hits the virtual shelves, I hope you’ll check out INTO THE FIRE, the first book in the series. It’s a sexy enemies-to-lovers romp that will make you hungry! Don’t worry, if you get TOO hungry, you can find many of the key recipes in the book on my website.

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

Book Description:

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?

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Amanda is going to give away a copy of either SCRUMPTIOUS or LUSCIOUS to one lucky commenter.

To enter – leave a comment or question for Amanda!

Print copy – US ONLY

E-book (Amazon or B&N) - INTERNATIONAL

Please include your email address and location!

Must be 18 or older.  Ends December 27th 2013 (midnight EST)


  1. This looks tasty

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  2. I love foodie romance! makes me wish I could cook :) Thanks for sharing!
    efender1(at)gmail - usa

  3. I'll have to try these recipes, they look great!

    mlawson17 at Hotmail dot com

  4. Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by! I think the next recipe I'll tackle from Seducing The Playboy is the Kentucky Jam Cake. Mmmm! :-)


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