Carmell Childs of Provo is in a bit of a jam. As one of five finalists in the Fourth Annual Spreading Smucker's Traditions Recipe and Essay Contest, she has a chance to win $20,000 toward a dream family reunion. She will travel to New York March 8 where her recipe, Chicken Bacon Burger with Cherry-Chive Mayo, will be judged.

Childs used Smucker's Orchard's Finest Michigan Red Tart Cherry Preserves to give her burger a sweet-tart flavor boost. The addition was inspired by a treasured baked chicken and cranberry dish her mother, Delaina Nielsen, used to make for Sunday night dinners.

Childs wanted to do a savory chicken dish with a similar sweet-tart dimension. The second part of the contest was an essay, and Childs waxed poetic about her mother's cooking skills, with all the lines rhyming in poem. (See the poem below.)

"I wanted to stand out from the other entries," she said. "I had a lot of fun writing it. I learned everything I know about cooking from her, and she was a self-taught cook."

Childs, a stay-at-home mother of three, said, "My kids don't consider me the best cook in the world, but my husband does."

She got excited about recipe contests when she entered the Utah's Own Ultimate Recipe Round-Up two years ago. "I didn't have much luck, but I didn't want to wait a whole year before entering another contest, so I looked online and found a wealth of contests to enter."

Practice apparently makes perfect, because Childs ended up as grand prize winner of last year's Utah's Own contest, with her Utah Truffle Crepe Cake, and was also a finalist in the Philadelphia Cream Cheese "Real Women of Philadelphia" contest as well.

With the Smucker's contest, she chose to do a savory recipe instead of a sweet dessert in order to stand out from the competition.

"But the other finalists are on the same brain wave, because none of them did a dessert," she said.

Her ground chicken burgers have some chopped apple, "Because I wanted to add some moisture since ground chicken is so low in fat. I used onions and apples, and they gave it flavor, too. The Smuckers cherry preserves add a little bit of sweetness — it's a great combination."

Since the prize money goes toward some type of family reunion, Childs said her kids are hoping to do a Disneyland reunion.

"I'd like to just have the whole family come over and have crab legs, because my family really likes seafood," she said.

Childs is just getting started in the recipe contest world. "The fun part for me is coming up with ideas. I lie awake in bed and come up with ideas when I can't sleep. I keep a notepad and pen under my bed."

Chicken Bacon Burger with Cherry-Chive Mayo

Crisco No-Stick Cooking Spray

Tangy Cherry-Chive Mayo:

2/3 cup Smucker's Orchard's Finest Michigan Red Tart Cherry Preserves

1/2 cup real mayonnaise or low-fat mayo

2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives

Burger Patty:

2-3 teaspoons Crisco Pure Olive Oil

1 cup Jonathan apple, cored and finely chopped

1/2 cup sweet yellow onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup chopped crispy bacon

16-ounce roll of ground chicken

1 egg (or egg white)

11/4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning

Burger Assembly:

5 slices provolone cheese, for topping

5 sourdough English muffins, split and toasted

5-10 thin slices red onion

5-10 pieces, red-leaf lettuce

1. Heat broiler on high. Spray broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine the preserves, mayonnaise and chives in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the apples and onions; season well with salt and pepper.

4. Cook and stir until softened, about 3-5 minutes.

5. Stir in the panko crumbs and then transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.

6. Add the remaining burger ingredients into the apple mixture, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.

7. Form the mixture into 5 patties (thinner at the center and thicker at the edges for even cooking). Mixture should be pretty sticky for a moist burger, but you may sprinkle in a little extra panko crumbs if needed.

8. Place patties on broil pan on the center rack. Broil 7-10 minutes, or just until centers are no longer pink, flipping once.

9. Place one slice of cheese on top of each patty during the last minute of cooking.

10. Assemble burgers on bottoms of split toasted muffins by layering lettuce, patty, Cherry-Chive Mayo, and 1-2 slices of red onion. Top with remaining split muffins and enjoy.

Carmell Childs' family essay

Growing up in a family of eleven,

Mom knew how to cook with flavors from Heaven!

With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good,

Making 11 PB& J's, she did what she could.

It didn't end there, oh no, there's more Smucker's flair!

From savory to sweet, Mom won all at the fair!

Her tangy meatballs; their flavors divine

With real fruity goodness straight from the vine.

The thumbprint cookie with its strawberry sphere

Was always my Smucker's favorite this time of year.

Mom's love of cooking she passed down to me.

Her Sunday roast chicken with berries was inspirational — you'll see.

My juicy chicken burger with cherries and chives

Is a tantalizing dish for your taste buds and eyes!

These flavor combinations are tried and true.

Mom shared them with me — I'll share them with you!

On holidays this burger is always requested

For those are the days that we are truly invested

To creating good food and close family ties.

Mom's legacy is now mine. I'm the proud mother of three!

Comment on this story

I create recipes for my family.

It just may be the preserves that hold us all together

Smucker's is the "sweetness" that we'll love forever!

Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com. Email: vphillips@desnews.com