Holiday Recipe Guide

December 23, 2021


Celebrating the talented culinarians we have at Fresh Ideas is a part of who we are. That’s why we hold our annual Copper Pot Culinary Competition. This is an opportunity for chefs and culinarians to test their strength against their peers.

In the first round, chefs compose a meal that best represents their passion for food and cooking. They included a brief essay to describe the dish and photos to show color, contrast, textures, knife skills, consistencies and composition. There were a number of creative submissions in the first round, but ultimately only four contestants made it to the semifinals: Chef Mike Booth, Chef Eron Baker, Chef Brian Kempf, and our Human Resources Manager, Samantha Jedlow.

In the semifinals, the recipes were recreated by our CEO and Founder Matthew Clervi, and Vice President of Culinary, Chef Carl Lovett, with instructions provided via Zoom from the chefs. Two chefs will compete in the finals with a head-to-head live cooking competition at our Adventure Awaits Conference.  Check out the semifinals show and see who makes it to the finals 2022 Copper Pot Cook-Off Semifinals. 

Now, with all of that in mind, we wanted to put together a holiday recipe guide for the new year, and who better to ask for recipes than a few of these talented chefs?

The first recipe is from Samantha Jedlow. Though she is a rockstar in our Human Resources department, Samantha actually attended culinary school too. Her recipe is for a Black Walnut Cake out of an old church cookbook.

From Samantha herself: “It is a family favorite that brings back so many fond memories of my grandma (we called her Nanny) and times together as a family.  As you can see, Nanny was super crafty and ‘coincidentally’ forgot to add some ingredients and directions to her submission. One cool thing I learned as I got older and into culinary school is that black walnuts are not a common ingredient. They can be a pain to harvest and tend to be a nut that is overlooked by many. My grandparents had a black walnut tree that they would have their three kids harvest when my dad was little to make this cake. This really is a cake that helped round off our family holidays around the table, stuffed with turkey, ham and so many casseroles while the adults played cards or “Rook” and the kids watched Unsolved Mysteries in the living room. This cake brings back many wonderful memories of our family traditions on the farm.  It is now made when we are all able to get together to remember Nanny and Pawpaw and our childhoods.”

Black Walnut Cake

  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ¾ tsp soda
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup black walnuts, chopped
  • ½ tsp – (not sure what she wrote)


  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup black walnuts, chopped


Beat butter and shortening; add eggs, one at a time. Combine flour and soda; add to shortening mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in flavoring. Fold in walnuts. Pour into 3 greased 8-inch cake pans.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  When cooled, spread the frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Frosting – beat softened butter or margarine with softened cream cheese. Add sifted powdered sugar, vanilla and walnuts.  Beat well.

Recipe by Evelyn Lambeth

Our next recipe is from Chef Mike Booth, the Director of Dining Services at Des Moines University. “Here is a recipe for a dessert my Mom would always make during the Holidays. It’s nothing fancy but man did I love it growing up, and still do to this day,” said Mike.

Strawberry Delight Pie

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 pkg. (8oz each) Cream Cheese, softened  
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping, divided
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 pkg. (3oz each) Jello Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 2-1/2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries), divided


  1. Mix crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter in 13×9-inch pan; press onto bottom of pan.
  2. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and milk in medium bowl with mixer until blended. Add 1 cup COOL WHIP; mix well. Carefully spread over crust. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Meanwhile, add boiling water to gelatin mixes in large bowl; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate 30 min. or until slightly thickened.
  4. Add 1-1/2 cups berries to gelatin; stir. Pour over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Top with remaining COOL WHIP and berries just before serving.

Enjoy these recipes, and please tag us if you recreate them this holiday season! From our table to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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