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Debra Caffrey is the Education E-newsletter Editor for FredParent. She also writes, blogs, and assists with events. She is the proud mom of 8-year-old Aidan. She is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.


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Practical Pantry

Why does everyone love French onion soup so much? Well, what’s not to love? Sweet, caramelized onions, deep salty broth, and gooey, tart melted cheese to top it off? Come on! It’s the ultimate comfort food, and although it’s a classic that some chefs can get snobby about, it’s actually really super simple to make.

I enjoy French onion soup, but even more so, I have a slight homecooking obsession with experimenting and spinning classics into something different entirely. It turns out that French onion soup tastes even better on top of something else! Chicken is my go-to weeknight protein, and here, I’ve turned the classic soup into an easy chicken casserole dish that maintains all the same comfort of the original recipe but provides even more sustenance. If you pair it with mashed potatoes, you can drizzle some of the succulent remaining French onion sauce over and it is so yummy! Round out the meal with greens or a salad and you’re done!

french onion chicken 1

The crucial element to obtaining that deep, delicious French onion soup flavor is making sure you take the time to caramelize your onions thoroughly. But don’t be intimidated by this! The rest of the recipe is super quick, and you can prep the rest of everything as you let the onions slow cook and transform into sweet, browned morsels of amazingness! Seriously – caramelized onions are like magic flavor bombs that can elevate anything! They are the heart of the classic soup, along with rich Gruyere cheese. I have fond memories of passing through the actual town of Gruyere by train during my travels through Switzerland towards the French Rivera, so when I make this dish it always takes me back to that quaint moment in time. You can totally use the more affordable basic Swiss cheese slices from your store – no problem!

I hope you enjoy this reinvented classic as much as we do!


Debra’s “French Onion Soup” Chicken


• 1 onion, sliced
• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 cup beef broth
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ cup dry sherry
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 4 oz Swiss or Gruyere cheese, sliced

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and sauté in oil until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Remove and place on plate.

3) Add a touch more oil if necessary and sauté onion slices, seasoning with salt and pepper and allowing them to brown and caramelize. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until browned and “wilted” down. This takes some time, but is the most important step!

french onion chicken 2

4) Add sherry and deglaze the pan for a few seconds, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of skillet. Add sugar, beef broth, garlic, thyme, Worcestershire, and more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and sauce to thicken.

5) Transfer chicken to an oven-proof baking dish and pour the French onion sauce from the skillet into the pan, covering the chicken with it and the onions.

6) Lay slices of Swiss cheese atop chicken.

french onion chicken 3
7) Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, or until warmed through and cheese starts to melt and get bubbly and slightly browned on top. You may also set it under the broiler for a few extra minutes. Enjoy!

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Pouches' Community Corner

Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area Splash EventMassadYMCA

For the past seven years, Smart Beginnings has thrown the Splash Pool Party fundraiser. This summer, the event will be held on June 24, 2018 from 6:30-9:30 pm at the Steve & Cheri Thurston Water Park at the Massad Family YMCA. Tickets range in price from $12 for a single ticket, $20 for couples and $35 for a family/group of four and each ticket also covers a hot dog, bag of chips and a drink.