Give readers an assignment that includes pancake mix, and you get … crêpes galore (four submissions)! And bread, waffles, biscuits and crackers, too.

Earlier this month, for Round 2 of the “Chopped”-inspired Seattle Times Pantry Kitchen Challenge, we asked you to make a dish with pancake mix, olives, cheese and herbs.

The olives, it seems, stumped — or at least inconvenienced — some, while others agonized over what to do with the box of pancake mix that’s been gathering dust in the back of the cabinet since, oh, 2010?

But, once again, our readers flexed their culinary muscles and got to work. It was heartening to see several repeat challengers! And, because the ingredients were released around Mother’s Day, many of you took the opportunity to do this with mom! Here are the innovative, largely Mediterranean-influenced results.

Since I once again have to pick winners without tasting the dishes, I looked mostly for creative recipes that generously incorporated all four ingredients. Based on that criteria, I declare Jeff Abrams’ pancake fettuccine the winner of this round! Yes, folks, that enterprising chef made pasta out of pancake mix! Runners-up: Darci Rogojin’s savory Greek cupcakes and Paul Shapiro’s Timpano di quarentena. Both epitomized the idea of turning a breakfast ingredient into dinner, and looked pretty darn impressive!

Here are the top 12 submissions. Thanks for playing, and see below for details on Round 3.

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Next up: Round 3 of The Seattle Times Pantry Kitchen Challenge

New ingredients: Ground meat (or ground meat substitute), canned fruit, lettuce, soy sauce.

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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 June 5. We’ll pick several of the most interesting submissions we receive to run in a future edition of The Mix.


Pantry Kitchen Challenge Round 2 Best Reader Submissions

*For brevity, we decided not run full recipes, but if you would like recipes to any of these dishes submitted by readers, email me and I will send them to you. 

 

Pancake fettuccine with mushroom, roasted pepper, olives and Parmesan crisps

Jeff Abrams saw “pancake mix” for the second round and thought, “Oh, I’ll make pasta!” The result: a delicious-looking fettuccine with mushroom, roasted peppers, olives and a crispy Parmesan heart cracker. (Jeff Abrams)
Jeff Abrams saw “pancake mix” for the second round and thought, “Oh, I’ll make pasta!” The result: a delicious-looking fettuccine with mushroom, roasted peppers, olives and a crispy Parmesan heart cracker. (Jeff Abrams)

Upon hearing pancake mix was an ingredient in this week’s challenge, I immediately thought of pasta. When you have two daughters who live for noodles, that’s not surprising. We’ve spent years experimenting with pasta-making; from pathetic attempts using hand-crank machines, to better results with finer grades of flour, to egg-filled ravioli. Pasta is nothing more than flour and egg, right? Same as pancake mix, with a few little additions: things like buttermilk, sugar and baking powder.

With the ignorance of naiveté, I set forth to make noodles from pancakes. The pasta is definitely on the firm side with a good chew, reminiscent of shaved Chinese noodles. Rolling them as thin as possible helps, but the whole grain pancake flour just isn’t that elastic. I’m not sure this would have worked without the addition (of) semolina flour. … I was worried that the noodles would be sweet, since sugar is the fourth ingredient on the pancake mix bag. Surprisingly, they turned out to have a nice nutty taste, not sweet at all. The green olives are a bit salty, but their brininess really helped cut some of the pasta’s heaviness. We enjoyed the dish, surprised that pancake mix would make such delicious fettuccine pasta. Since the dish is fairly healthy, vegetarian, with only a tiny bit of fat, plus some protein from the buttermilk and cheese, the Parmesan cracker’s shape symbolizes “heart-friendly.”

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— Jeff Abrams

Savory Greek miniature cupcakes with herbed cream cheese frosting

Darci Rogojin, who also had her dish selected as a finalist in Round 1, used savory, Greek-inspired ingredients to completely transform the concept of a cupcake. (Darci Rogojin)
Darci Rogojin, who also had her dish selected as a finalist in Round 1, used savory, Greek-inspired ingredients to completely transform the concept of a cupcake. (Darci Rogojin)

This challenge had me a little scared but I had so much fun again! After thinking about the ingredient list for a few days, this recipe idea came to me while I was making cupcakes for Mother’s Day. In reading the pancake mix box, I saw that I could make drop biscuits so I had the idea of adding a topping and incorporating all the other basket ingredients. I went with a Greek theme because my husband and I did a cruise last October where we visited Santorini, Athens, Rhodes and Corfu, so Greek food has been on my mind since then.

— Darci Rogojin

Timpano di Quarantena

This was tons of fun. I recently made a timpano for a prequarantine party for a good friend. So I thought, “Will this work with the Seattle Times ingredients?” Voilà, or should I say, presto — Timpano di Quarantena. I wasn’t sure when I took it out of the oven that it would hold up, but it did. I used the olives as a replacement for the traditional salami. We are having it for dinner tonight, and I have to admit, the pancake crust was (and I hate to admit it) better than pasta. Buon appetito. 

— Paul Shapiro

 

Olive These Lamb Meatballs, with garlic naan

Round 1 champs Steve Venard and Cathy Martin got creative in Round 2, too. This time, they used pancake mix to make naan bread that they topped with olive chimichurri and lamb meatballs. (Steve Venard)
Round 1 champs Steve Venard and Cathy Martin got creative in Round 2, too. This time, they used pancake mix to make naan bread that they topped with olive chimichurri and lamb meatballs. (Steve Venard)

Really, pancake mix? The ancient box stuck in the back of the pantry, not having seen the light of day since the last annual camping trip? A little homework and perusing the ingredients (looks suspiciously like buttermilk biscuits) pointed to naan bread as a possibility. One thing lead to another and we decided on Olive These Lamb Meatballs on garlic naan. Had we made it before? Nope. Did we follow a recipe? Sort of. Was it good? Oh yeah! While this might look complicated, in reality, it came together rather quickly. The olive chimichurri was a nice foil to the slight sweetness from the pancake mix. Lamb meatballs are rich and the tzatziki counters the richness with acidity from the yogurt and lemon juice.

— Steve Venard and Cathy Martin 

Savory Italian monkey bread

Joan Segna’s savory Italian monkey bread was inspired by something she ate on her trip to Italy last year.  (Joan Segna)
Joan Segna’s savory Italian monkey bread was inspired by something she ate on her trip to Italy last year. (Joan Segna)

Last December, I spent a week in northern Italy visiting Christmas markets. At one night market, we bought a slice of bread that was a warm, gooey slice of heaven on a cold, clear night. It reminded me of a savory version of the age-old “monkey bread” but filled with olives and cheese. Your challenge of pancake mix, olives, cheese and herbs motivated me to try my version.

 — Joan Segna

 

Chicken olivetti parmigiana

Tracy Timmons-Gray wanted to try the Seattle Times Pantry Kitchen Challenge, but she isn’t a great cook, she said. So Timmons-Gray took the opportunity to rope in her mom, Patti, with whom she made a chicken olivetti parmigiana. (Tracy Timmons-Gray)
Tracy Timmons-Gray wanted to try the Seattle Times Pantry Kitchen Challenge, but she isn’t a great cook, she said. So Timmons-Gray took the opportunity to rope in her mom, Patti, with whom she made a chicken olivetti parmigiana. (Tracy Timmons-Gray)

For this Round 2 of pancake mix, olives, herbs and cheese, we made what my mom is calling “chicken olivetti parmigiana.” I (42) am in Seattle, and she (65) is in upstate New York. She is a very skilled home cook, and I … am not, so during this time of quarantine, she has been coaching me over the phone, which is what happened for this dish. For the challenge, I used Trader Joe’s buttermilk pancake mix as the base for the “dry dip.” This included some Parmesan cheese and herbs. After quickly pan-frying the coated chicken (and putting it in the oven for a few minutes), I drizzled a simple butter sauce with sliced mixed olives and olive juice on top. The chicken had a nice light crunch on the outside, was moist and tender on the inside, and the olive sauce added a nice briny, salty topping.

— Tracy Timmons-Gray and Patti (Tracy’s mom)

 

Savory pancake with olive tapenade

Pandora Touart and Tom Whitaker decided to stick with your basic concept of a stuffed pancake, but fancied it up with an olive tapenade and a filigree top.   (Pandora Touart)
Pandora Touart and Tom Whitaker decided to stick with your basic concept of a stuffed pancake, but fancied it up with an olive tapenade and a filigree top. (Pandora Touart)

My husband is a pancake fiend, so we have the mix on hand (though his preferred brand is MIA on the shelves these days). He is the sweet and I am the savory of our pair, so olives and cheese sounded fabulous to me. My herb garden is so robust right now — that was a simple go-to. How to get Betty Crocker into the savory realm: Adding chopped chives and an egg gave some taste to an otherwise bland, “classic” mix, and before we flipped the bottom “cake” we strewed on a lot of finely grated Parmesan. The cheese made for a crunchy layer with a nice bite and color and the bottom cake didn’t get soggy from liquid in the tapenade. Not to be eaten warm. … We chopped all the miscellaneous olives on hand for tapenade and jazzed it up with pimentos and a good bit of freshly picked chopped thyme, then spread this on the big cake. The filigree top was added last and that batter was a bit thinner with added milk. Because it is hard when doing a speedy, masked duty run to the grocery to resist a bit of decadence to offset the monotony of these days, we had crème fraîche on hand for a fancy dollop to top it off. The crème added just the right schmear. With cheap, chilled white wine, it “was pretty darn good,” though a lot more herbs in the batter would alter some of the pancake taste.

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— Pandora Touart and Tom Whitaker

Potato galette

Sheree Diep is adept with pie crust, so she saw the challenge ingredients and figured she’d make a galette with pancake mix. It was accompanied by an olive tapenade. (Sheree Diep)
Sheree Diep is adept with pie crust, so she saw the challenge ingredients and figured she’d make a galette with pancake mix. It was accompanied by an olive tapenade. (Sheree Diep)

I made a potato galette with an olive and caper tapenade and sourdough and pancake mix crust. It turned out better than I expected! I’ve been looking for creative ways to use up my sourdough discard, and pie crust is something I am really good at making. The tapenade is made up of Castelvetrano olives, capers, thyme, rosemary, garlic, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and olive oil. Really briny and delicious on its own, but even better with the potatoes because it evens out the strong flavors. Did I measure anything? Not really. Would I attempt again? Definitely! Thank you for this challenge! I had fun with this, and can’t wait for the next round!

— Sheree Diep

Gluten-free red lentil cake

My mom and I share the same zodiac sign and we read our horoscope in The Seattle Times on a daily basis for the fun of it. When I read today’s, I felt compelled to literally “stick to tested methods, techniques and recipes” as mom was already getting ready to make our family-favorite dish, “red lentil cake.” I challenged her to use pancake mix as a substitute for baking soda and baking powder. She is gluten-intolerant, so we used gluten-free pancake mix. Olives and cheese are already two breakfast items we love as part of our “old country” Mediterranean breakfast, as well as plain yogurt, which we consume an insane amount of. Our new version definitely beat our expectations and tasted better than our original recipe. Red lentil cake is seriously perfect any time of the day.

— Bahar Oguzertem and Yasemin Alptekin (Bahar’s mom)

 

Olive tapenade with rosemary pancake crackers

Jared Cook, from Kenmore, had the brainwave to make rosemary crackers with his pancake batter. Dipped into olive tapenade with cotija cheese, it was, admittedly, more a snack than a meal. But hey, aren’t we all snacking all day these days? (Jared Cook)
Jared Cook, from Kenmore, had the brainwave to make rosemary crackers with his pancake batter. Dipped into olive tapenade with cotija cheese, it was, admittedly, more a snack than a meal. But hey, aren’t we all snacking all day these days? (Jared Cook)

I had a great time putting together this olive tapenade with rosemary pancake crackers! This was more of a starter than a meal in itself, but my wife and I thought it turned out well! Perhaps the tapenade would shine better with a more neutral cracker, but the combination of the salty tapenade and the sweet, toasty crackers highlighted a range of flavors that would transform throughout the bite. The rosemary pancake crackers were simply a much drier ratio of pancake mix to water, the addition of some oil and chopped, dried rosemary. Baking it, after mixing and rolling thin, for a total of 6 minutes and letting it sit in the turned-off oven for an hour allowed it to dry up into a crisp and crunchy cracker! The tapenade included green, black and Kalamata olives, garlic, shallot, oregano, thyme and — to round out the last of the four challenge required ingredients — cheese! More specifically, cotija cheese left over from Cinco de Mayo. Traditional tapenade usually includes anchovy, but the salty cotija acted as a fine substitute. This was a really fun challenge! It stretched my creative muscles and I can’t wait to see what lies in store for Round 3!

— Jared Cook

 

Kalamata olive and goat cheese blintzes

Lynn Fischer, from Woodinville, was one of several readers who used pancake batter to make crêpes, but she elevated her crêpes into blintzes, filling the little blankets with goat cheese, basil, honey, orange zest and Kalamata olives. (Lynn Fischer)
Lynn Fischer, from Woodinville, was one of several readers who used pancake batter to make crêpes, but she elevated her crêpes into blintzes, filling the little blankets with goat cheese, basil, honey, orange zest and Kalamata olives. (Lynn Fischer)

I used the pancake mix to make crêpes by adding egg and more water. Then added chopped Kalamata olives, orange zest, basil and honey to goat cheese. This was all wrapped up in the crêpes to make a really good hors d’oeuvre. I’ll be making it for my next dinner party!

— Lynn Fischer

 

Pancake mix biscuits

Wendy Reilly used pancake mix to make savory biscuits with cheese and olives and herbs from her garden. (Wendy Reilly)
Wendy Reilly used pancake mix to make savory biscuits with cheese and olives and herbs from her garden. (Wendy Reilly)

I used Seattle’s own Krusteaz pancake mix with a half-cup of water to 1 cup of the mix. I added sliced and drained black olives, grated white cheddar (about a half-cup), minced basil and parsley from my garden and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Baked at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, delicious.

— Wendy Reilly