The unassuming combination of chicken breasts, green onion, yogurt and oatmeal were the ingredients for Round 4 of The Seattle Times Pantry Kitchen Challenge. But as reader and challenge participant Micaela Ellison astutely surmised, it really just boiled down to simple staples: meat, onions, dairy and flour.

What did you all make with this very basic blend of ingredients? A lot of oat-crusted chicken (six entries), Indian-inspired dishes (four entries), a few burger variations (three entries) and a surprising number of risottos (three entries).

But, out of the 30 entries also emerged a distinct, surprising trend.

Dessert.

Yes, dessert.

Five of you innovative souls managed to take poultry, cannibalize recipes that would normally end a meal, and make them work as entrees. And your ingenuity will now be rewarded.

The winner, without tasting, is Maria Galvao, whose chicken baked Alaska resembled something straight out the pages of a fancy cookbook. Runners-up: Carrol Harris for her very dessert-looking chicken cheesecake, and Laura Jones for her well-timed, Pride-and-Juneteenth-themed rainbow curry chicken salad verrines with lemon blueberry oat tuiles.

Here are the top 12 submissions. Thanks for playing! See below for details on Round 5. This will be the final round. Then, look out for details on a special “Champions” round!

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The Seattle Times Pantry Kitchen Challenge

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Next up: Round 5 of The Seattle Times Pantry Kitchen Challenge

New Ingredients: Tofu, spinach, cherries and boxed cereal of your choice.

Rules: You have to use all four ingredients; you can, however, add as many additional ingredients as you choose.

Deadline: Create a dish, tell us how successful you were and email photos and a description of your dish to food editor Stefanie Loh (sloh@seattletimes.com) by July 3. We’ll pick several of the most interesting submissions we receive to run in a future edition of The Mix.

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Pantry Kitchen Challenge Round 4 Best Reader Submissions

*To download a PDF of the recipes from this round, click here.

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Chicken baked Alaska

This savory version of baked Alaska came to mind because of the three distinct characteristics of the ingredients: oats, chicken and yogurt. (Courtesy of Maria Galvao)
This savory version of baked Alaska came to mind because of the three distinct characteristics of the ingredients: oats, chicken and yogurt. (Courtesy of Maria Galvao)

This savory version of baked Alaska came to mind because of the three distinct characteristics of the ingredients: Oats — soft and chewy like a cake layer — chicken — a cold/hot layer (in this case, savory) — and yogurt — soft, velvety topping as frosting.  I added butter and water to make the crackers, soy sauce to deglaze the chicken’s browned bits in the cast iron, cream to the yogurt to stiffen the yogurt, and cinnamon sugar to the baked Alaska to caramelize the top.

Maria Galvao

Chicken cheesecake

Carrol Harris made something more pedestrian in the last round and felt the need to step up her game this time. Her creation, chicken cheesecake, was certainly eye-catching. (Courtesy of Carrol Harris)
Carrol Harris made something more pedestrian in the last round and felt the need to step up her game this time. Her creation, chicken cheesecake, was certainly eye-catching. (Courtesy of Carrol Harris)

Since I was one of the FOUR who made meatballs for the last challenge, I knew I had to step it up! Being a bed-and-breakfast owner gave me the idea to start with baked oatmeal, though I made it savory by replacing most of the sugar with green onions, cumin, garlic and red chili pepper flakes. Then I altered my favorite sour cream cheesecake recipe to make it savory also. I made a filling of sautéed chicken breast, green onions, celery, cream cheese, egg, curry and turmeric; and a topping of plain Greek yogurt and mango chutney. After baking and cooling it like a traditional cheesecake, we found it very tasty, but a bit heavy. Then my husband had the great idea to heat it. Twenty seconds in the microwave and it was really fantastic! 

— Carrol Harris

Rainbow curry chicken salad verrines with lemon blueberry oat tuiles

Inspired by Pride month, the Black Lives Matter protests and Juneteenth, Laura Jones channeled her artistic creativity into her kitchen, and these rainbow curry chicken verrines with oat tuiles are the result. (Courtesy of Laura Jones)
Inspired by Pride month, the Black Lives Matter protests and Juneteenth, Laura Jones channeled her artistic creativity into her kitchen, and these rainbow curry chicken verrines with oat tuiles are the result. (Courtesy of Laura Jones)

As soon as I saw the ingredients for this week’s challenge, a curried chicken salad topped with a savory granola was my starting point. Curried chicken salad is one of my favorite recipes, but how to make it unique and visually interesting became my initial challenge! I love creating “deconstructed” versions of recipes. Back in April I was planning to bake a tart for a French hors d’oeuvres Zoom visit with friends when my oven died. In the process of quickly devising a new dish using the same ingredients, I learned about  verrines — a French course served in a glass. The layers in that verrine had all the makings of a rainbow and voila, I had my idea for this challenge: a salad layered in rainbow colors to honor Pride Month! So, the usual mango chutney became blueberry chutney, I enhanced the yellow color of the yogurt dressing by adding more turmeric to the curry powder and added red bell pepper to the mix.

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The savory granola became a heart-shaped oat tuile studded with dried blueberries to honor Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations throughout the world. The tuiles became more sweet than savory, which worked surprisingly well with the lemony curry flavors of the salad. And my husband was just thrilled to take on the task of eating lemony lacy cookies! The less than perfect tuiles are an apt metaphor for how we need to keep working to create a more heart-filled society that matches a more humane vision.

Laura Jones

Savory apple chicken crumble

Lara Wyss took a breakfast staple — oats — and combined it with apple and chicken to turn it into this savory crumble. (Courtesy of Lara Wyss)
Lara Wyss took a breakfast staple — oats — and combined it with apple and chicken to turn it into this savory crumble. (Courtesy of Lara Wyss)

The Pantry Kitchen Challenge is so fun! I’m just sorry I didn’t see it until Round 4. I have two entries using chicken breast, green onion, yogurt and oats. My family loved both of the recipes but they are so different that it was hard to decide which we liked better. (Chef’s note: We decided we liked the chicken crumble better!)

— Lara Wyss

Chicken roulade with sweet potato and green onion gnocchi

Reese Rowe said she was only “happyish” with how her chicken roulade turned out. But perhaps she just has high standards, because the plating, at least, looked restaurant-level to us. (Courtesy of Reese Rowe)
Reese Rowe said she was only “happyish” with how her chicken roulade turned out. But perhaps she just has high standards, because the plating, at least, looked restaurant-level to us. (Courtesy of Reese Rowe)

I made chicken roulade with sweet potato and green onion gnocchi (using oat flour and all-purpose flour), with toasted hazelnuts, peas and their shoots, and a red pepper and yogurt sauce. The roulade is filled with green onion, spinach, mushroom and goat cheese. I wrapped it in its own skin, which is a clever idea, but to be honest, needed more finesse in execution. I browned it in cast iron, but should have transferred it to a (shallow) sheet pan to finish in the oven because the skin lost its crisp — to make this work, I had to buy bone-in chicken and skin-on breasts — I boned and skinned them, and cut one in half to get two roulades. I wrapped the second one in the skin from the other breast, which I used for the second dish. I was happyish with it. Next time I would cut the garlic in the yogurt sauce in half, and I’d maybe brine the chicken before rolling it. The gnocchi took some experimentation, but they turned out really well.

— Reese Rowe

Steamed chicken bao

Steamed chicken bao with key lime pie yogurt and chili with black beans was the innovative dish Paul Shapiro came up with for Round 4 of the Pantry Kitchen Challenge. (Courtesy of Paul Shapiro)
Steamed chicken bao with key lime pie yogurt and chili with black beans was the innovative dish Paul Shapiro came up with for Round 4 of the Pantry Kitchen Challenge. (Courtesy of Paul Shapiro)

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This kitchen challenge has been so much fun! When my two daughters were small, we would have a contest that we each had to make something which would showcase a special ingredient. From an 8-year-old, I think one dish was hot fudge shrimp, but it was a fun game we played together. This week’s ingredients worked well together except for the oats. My family loves the barbecue pork bao I make, so I figured why not try oat flour … I used double the amount of yeast since oats have not gluten, and one-third white flour and it worked, though they were a bit heavier than lighter-than-air bao. The filling was somewhat easier. Chicken and scallions are like bread and butter, going well together. I added key lime pie yogurt for a little creamy acid touch, and one of my favorite ingredients, chili with black beans.

Paul Shapiro

Nashville hot chicken slider with bacon bourbon green onion jam

Steve Venard and Cathy Martin get bonus points for incorporating the oats not once, but twice, into this recipe. They used oats in the bagel that acts as the “bun” for their slider, and then in the breading of the Nashville hot chicken patty. (Courtesy of Steve Venard)
Steve Venard and Cathy Martin get bonus points for incorporating the oats not once, but twice, into this recipe. They used oats in the bagel that acts as the “bun” for their slider, and then in the breading of the Nashville hot chicken patty. (Courtesy of Steve Venard)

Until oatmeal came around the bend, we were smoothly chugging along. Mind you, oatmeal isn’t difficult to work with, it’s rather inviting; a friendly face on the container offering to stoke your food furnace for the day. Therein lies the rub. Oatmeal is breakfast food, plus it’s kinda gray when cooked, which is why it’s mixed with colorful swirls of cinnamon and brown sugar. Plus, as we inch [into] Phase 2, we want to plan some small gatherings with friends, so we wanted this entry to be an appetizer.

The train, gaining speed, finally stopped in Nashville — at a fried chicken slider with bacon jam. The bourbon bacon jam contains onions, so a great place for the green onions. Also, word is, yeast is in short supply so we adapted a two-ingredient bagel recipe for an oatmeal slider bun. The bun is chewy with a great sourdough tang and, when topped with oatmeal, added a nutty taste. Using yogurt to also marinate the chicken and ground oatmeal for its breading, those two ingredients did double duty. The end result was a spicy, sweet, salty, handheld appetizer that was fabulous. It was so tasty, we made it again! Our mouths are still watering.

Steve Venard and Cathy Martin

Cauliflower scallion pickle paneer naan with oat garlic dry chutney

Beth Cavalli used the ingredients to create an Indian-inspired dish: chicken curry cauliflower scallion pickle paneer naan with oat garlic dry chutney. (Courtesy of Beth Cavalli)
Beth Cavalli used the ingredients to create an Indian-inspired dish: chicken curry cauliflower scallion pickle paneer naan with oat garlic dry chutney. (Courtesy of Beth Cavalli)

I never use chicken breast for curry, but marinated overnight in yogurt, I knew it would be good and tasty for a rustic curry. The trick being to bhunao the onions, tomatoes, hot pepper and seasonings until they really cook down — this took me about 90 minutes. Then, the chicken breast and yogurt go in at the end for a short cook time. I think the most creative part of my meal is the dry chutney with toasted oats and garlic.  It made a gorgeous topping for paneer naan. I spread each store-bought naan with a little unsalted butter, threw on some crumbled paneer and topped with the dry chutney.  I put it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about eight minutes. I think I’m going to make more dry chutneys from now on, to sprinkle on cooked veggies, nachos, whatever. To use the final required ingredient didn’t seem like that much of a challenge. You could put a scallion anywhere and it would be happy. But I love pickles and wanted a pickle to round out this meal. The cauliflower and scallion pickle turned out great. My husband enjoyed every part of this meal, and I know my daughter will enjoy the leftovers!

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Beth Cavalli

Baked breaded chicken breast with yogurt and green onion dipping sauce

Alys Cabigting, 8, made a baked breaded chicken breast with a yogurt and green onion dipping sauce. (Courtesy of Alys Cabigting)
Alys Cabigting, 8, made a baked breaded chicken breast with a yogurt and green onion dipping sauce. (Courtesy of Alys Cabigting)

My name is Alys Cabigting and I am 8 years old.  I made a baked breaded chicken breast with a yogurt and green onion dipping sauce. I got my idea for the dipping sauce from the sauce we made for some samosas a couple of days ago. We flavored it with granulated garlic, pepper, salt, cilantro and green onions fresh from our garden. The inspiration for the chicken I got just because I wanted to try something new. We tried regular oatmeal and oatmeal that we processed until it was almost powder. It turned out better with the almost-powdered oats. We added salt, pepper, garlic and cumin to the oats. It turned out great. The chicken turned out really good and was nice and crunchy, and the sauce was nice and flavorful so it went well with the chicken. We first tried pan frying the chicken, but it didn’t work very well, so we decided that a healthier and easier way would be to bake it. I love cooking so much. I hope that I can do this again next week.

— Alys Cabigting

Stuffed chicken breasts with chimichurri yogurt sauce and oat risotto

Kelly Lippman and her kids, Sara and Noah, experimented with a couple of vegetables as stuffing before they refined the recipe for these stuffed chicken breasts with chimichurri yogurt sauce and oat risotto, with roasted asparagus and walnut granola. (Courtesy of Kelly Lippman / )
Kelly Lippman and her kids, Sara and Noah, experimented with a couple of vegetables as stuffing before they refined the recipe for these stuffed chicken breasts with chimichurri yogurt sauce and oat risotto, with roasted asparagus and walnut granola. (Courtesy of Kelly Lippman / )

Honestly, I was really daunted by the chicken breasts. They are my least favorite part of the chicken to cook or eat, but that ended up being my favorite part. As I was formulating a plan, I was in my garden accidentally harvesting pea vines that were too tangled to stake. I thought we could sauté the pea vines and use that to stuff chicken breasts. Enormous fail! I wish I had a picture of my son’s face when he tasted the pea vines after he sautéed them. It was like trying to chew rubber bands. Into the compost they went and back to the garden we went, where luckily, the chard was waiting. I love chimichurri so I wanted to use that flavor as a base for the sauce. I leaned heavily on the cilantro in the chimichurri because I feel about parsley the way I feel about chicken breasts.

We weren’t sure how it would mix with yogurt, but it was delicious, especially with the added tangerine juice. We could taste the green onions in the sauce and we threw some on top so they weren’t invisible. The oat risotto was tasty though my teenagers commented, “this is actually just oatmeal.” They were not wrong. I think the mushrooms in the chicken breast stuffing really helped keep them juicy. Noah and I did the cooking and Sara made it look fancy. Definitely a meal we would make again!

Kelly Lippman

Chicken curry crumble

Patti Gray Whann lives in Glen Falls, New York, but she’s the mother of a Seattleite, and the mother-daughter combo have been regulars in the Pantry Kitchen Challenge. Gray Whann subbed coconut flavored Chobani yogurt for the coconut milk in her curry concoction, and, she reports that it was great!  (Courtesy of Patti Gray Whann)
Patti Gray Whann lives in Glen Falls, New York, but she’s the mother of a Seattleite, and the mother-daughter combo have been regulars in the Pantry Kitchen Challenge. Gray Whann subbed coconut flavored Chobani yogurt for the coconut milk in her curry concoction, and, she reports that it was great! (Courtesy of Patti Gray Whann)
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This was very tasty and now I have a recipe that does not use any wheat flour for folks that cannot eat it. I would have never used yogurt but using a coconut-flavored yogurt substituted for coconut milk. I enjoy your challenges so far. Thanks for doing this as most of us are still self-quarantining and need to think out our pantries … especially when we may be missing ingredients.

— Patty Gray Whann

Harissa yogurt chicken with oat tabbouleh salad and green onion flatbread

Inspired by a dish made by another Pantry Kitchen Challenge participant in an earlier round, Jeremy Tyndall came up with this harissa yogurt chicken. (Courtesy of Jeremy Tyndall)
Inspired by a dish made by another Pantry Kitchen Challenge participant in an earlier round, Jeremy Tyndall came up with this harissa yogurt chicken. (Courtesy of Jeremy Tyndall)

I’ve been wanting to do something with harissa every since I saw Megan Stuart’s harissa-spiked shakshuka from Round 1. I like the flavor of various pepper sauces but don’t enjoy a lot of heat. Mixing the harissa with yogurt and orange juice as a marinade for chicken was a great way to enjoy the flavor while toning down the heat. Keeping with a Middle Eastern theme, I decided to make a fresh tabbouleh salad with green onions using steel-cut oats as a substitute for bulgur, and a flat bread with oat flour, yogurt and green onions. While I’m not gluten-free, the steel-cut oats make a great substitute for those who are, and you can easily work in other grain salads. The flatbread broke apart fairly easily but had a nice chew texture and subtle nutty flavor. Everything paired well together and I’ll definitely be using the marinade again, maybe on chicken wings next time.

Jeremy Tyndall