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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Chicken Marsala inspired by #CaughtUpinRaine

Chicken Marsala
I'm so exciting to be hosting a book tour stop for L.G. O'Connor's newest release, Caught Up In Raine, today! I was first introduced to O'Connor and a category of books that I'd never looked twice at before when I was a part of her Trinity Stones book tour just over two years ago. The term "paranormal romance" is what drew me in. And then I didn't want to leave. I'm sure the paranormal part has something to do with that, but after reading CUIR, my sneaking suspicion that it was L.G.'s fun, fresh, contemporary writing that really held me captive, was confirmed.

Considered romantic women's fiction (nothing paranormal going on in this series), Caught Up In Raine features a seemingly unlikely May-December romance and is told from two points of view: 40-something Jillian's and 20-something Raine's. So, here's the thing—this book will resonate most with women who have already hit that 40-mark.  You know, women like me (I'm right on the dot). I have a sneaking suspicion that any ladies younger than that might not be in the right place to make a connection. I mean, if somebody had told me that I wouldn't feel any (okay, much) older at 40 than I did at 25, I wouldn't have believed them.

Let's just say, if you can relate to Younger (and find the Liza-Josh relationship plausible), then I think you'd also enjoy CUIR. Personally, I think the hardest part to believe is that a 20-something year old guy has the maturity to handle a 40-something year old woman. But Raine is an old soul and has lived through some hard times, which tends to mentally age a person sooner than a carefree life.
Chicken Marsala
When Jillian, an author, first sees Raine working on a landscaping crew, she's struck by the resemblance he has to the main character in a book she's currently working on (which happens to be based on a real life person who means a lot to her), and asks him if he'd consider posing as her cover model. He's flattered...and he accepts. Sparks fly on both ends from that first moment.

Both characters are forced to confront their pasts head-on in order to move forward with their lives together. But the journey isn't only about strife, it's also about discovery and awakening. And it's a romance, so there's sex involved. But best of all, Raine can cook up a storm. Since Jillian has never been handy in the kitchen, she's in awe that his prowess extends to the kitchen.

The first meal that Raine prepares for Jillian is Chicken Marsala. Like all of L.G.'s novels (that I've read), food plays a supporting role. It's not obvious or in-your-face...they wouldn't be classified as "foodie reads"...but I can always tell when an author appreciates a good meal. But since I hadn't eaten Chicken Marsala in years, I knew the moment I read the words that this line was my inspiration.

"Where did you learn how to cook like this?" Jillian asks, wearing a look of disbelief as she dips her fork back into the chicken marsala. (p 96)
Chicken Marsala inspired by Caught Up In Raine
Speaking of Raine's cooking prowess, anybody who likes seeing a hot, capable guy in the kitchen (and who doesn't) should check out Raine's recipe column on USA Today Happy Ever After, Raine's Roost (aka Jillian's Kitchen)! So ladies, if you're a fan of contemporary romance novels, this is one you'll want to add to your collection...and O'Connor has two companion novelettes to the story coming soon!

Chicken Marsala
Tender chicken cutlets in a Marsala wine sauce laced with mushrooms.
Print Friendly and PDF
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: entree chicken mushrooms wine Italian

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
  • 2.5 pounds chicken cutlets (about 8 cutlets)
  • 1 heaping cup of all-purpose flour seasoned generously with salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 1/3 cups chicken stock or broth
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
Dredge the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour; reserve extra flour for now.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches so you don't crowd the pad, add chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, 4-6 minutes, flipping halfway through. Set the chicken on a deep plate or rimmed sheet and repeat until all of the chicken is done.

Reduce heat to medium, then add 2 more tablespoons of butter and 3 more tablespoons of oil; add mushrooms and cook until golden, 5 minutes. Add shallots and garlic, and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often (you can throw away any leftover flour now).

Carefully pour in the Marsala and chicken stock; cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pan to release the delicious bits stuck on the bottom (fond), for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices back to the skillet and allow everything to heat back through, ~2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the last 3 tablespoons of butter. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, then garnish with parsley to serve.

If you can't find chicken cutlets, just buy the same amount (by weight) of chicken breasts, then slice them in half like you're butterlying them (but cut all the way through).

-adapted from Saveur

Caught Up in Rain by LG O'Connor

Caught Up in Raine
author: L.G. O'Connor
publisher: Collins-Young Publishing LLC
genre: Romance / Women's Fiction / Contemporary
series: Book #1 in the Caught Up in Love series
source: author
soft cover: 308 pages

"foodie" read: Not necessarily, but there is food mentioned throughout.

random excerpt: "There's no food in this house. Unless we both want to starve to death, I need to go to the store if I plan on cooking anything. My only other option is throwing you down on the kitchen floor and making love to you until I'm blind. But I'm thinking we need to start slower since I'll be staying here for a while, and I don't want to screw this up." (p. 94 ARC)


Forty-two and widowed, romance writer Jillian Grant believes hospitals equal death. Plagued by loss and convinced more is imminent when her aunt ends up in critical condition after heart surgery; she has come to equate the absence of pain with happiness. When she spots a hot, young landscaper working on the hospital grounds with an eerie resemblance to the male lead in her next novel, she convinces him to pose as her cover model.

Working multiple jobs to put himself through college, twenty-four-year-old Raine MacDonald is no stranger to loss. Behind his handsome face and rockin’ body lies family tragedy and agonizing secrets. When circumstances put him back in the path of his abusive father, fate delivers Jillian as his unwitting savior. Thing is, when he thinks of her, his thoughts are far from platonic.

Despite their age difference, Jillian and Raine discover they’re more alike than they could ever imagine. But torn between facing her own fears and grasping a chance at happiness, Jillian makes a soul-shattering decision that threatens to blow their world apart.

about the author: LG O'Connor is a member of the Romance Writers of America. An executive for a Fortune 250 company, she writes adult paranormal and contemporary romance. Caught Up in Raine is her first romantic women's fiction novel.

Author, LG O'Connor
LG O'Connor (photo by Kimberly Rocha)
She is also the author of the four-book urban fantasty / paranormal romance series, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, which is available where all fine books are sold. A native 'Jersey Girl', she lives a life of adventure, navigating her way through dog toys and soccer balls in Morris County, New Jersey. When she's feeling particularly brave—she enters the kitchen.

connect with the author: website | blogfacebook | twitter

recipe inspired by the book: Chicken Marsala

Two more recipes inspired by L.G. O'Connor Books
(click photo to get recipe and see the accompanying post):
Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Chocolate Souffles inspired by The Wanderer's Children

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.