Thursday, November 21, 2013

A New Twist On a Lunchroom Classic

When I was in Elementary School, one of my all time favorite lunches was Chili and Cinnamon Rolls. The lunch ladies made these huge, fluffy, delicious cinnamon rolls that complimented the chili so perfectly! Imagine my delight when I learned that clear over here in Nebraska, hundreds of miles from my hometown, the same fantastic menu item is served - so my kids can experience the joy!

In an effort to clean out the fridge before we leave for a week for the Thanksgiving holiday, I made a version of Chili and Cinnamon Rolls that turned out pretty sweet! My kids, who often rate the meals I make on a scale of 0-30, gave this meal the highest rating - pretty rare in our house. So mostly, I'm posting this in an effort to remember the modifications I made to two recipes so I can recreate it! So I'll post the original recipes, with notes in parenthesis to explain what I did different. And why.

Pumpkin Chili

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper,chopped (I didn't have a yellow, so I just chopped and used one whole green bell pepper.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. ground turkey (I used ground pork, because it is what I had in the freezer. In was ah-maze-ing!)
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (I didn't have any, so I chopped up the last of the tomatoes from my garden that I had ripening in a box.)
2 cups pumpkin puree (I only had maybe 1 - 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper dash of salt (I used somewhere between 1/2-1 tsp - it just seemed bland without it!)
*I also added 1 1/2 cups of pinto beans. Again, use it up...

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onion, green & yellow pepper and garlic until tender. Stir in the turkey and cook until evenly browned. Pour meat mixture into slow cooker. Mix in tomatoes and pumpkin (and beans). Season with chili powder, pepper & salt. Cover & set on low, and cook for 4-5 hours. Serve topped with Cheddar cheese and sour cream. (We used Queso Ranchero instead of cheddar, because I had some on hand. It was perfect.)

Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Glaze

The roll dough I used is my standby for pretty much every type of roll I make. I discovered the 30 minute roll recipe from Real Mom Kitchen and it is my favorite. It is super fast and super easy.

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water
⅓ cup oil
2 Tbsp yeast
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg
3½ cups flour
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (I made my own, but only because I didn't have any canned stuff and I was gifted a bag of fresh cranberries that my parents picked up from a farm stand in Wisconson. I added about 1/4 of the orange zest to the sauce as I cooked it. Yummmmmmm.....)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
zest from one orange
juice from 1/2 orange
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, oil, yeast, and sugar. Allow mixture to rest for 15 minutes. With a dough hook, mix in salt and eggs and 2 of the cups flour until combined. Add remaining flour ½ cup at a time. Roll out dough into a large rectangle - I think mine was about 12X18 inches. I don't know. Spread the cranberry sauce evenly on the dough and sprinkle the cinnamon on top. Roll tightly and pinch the seam so it stays together. Cut into 1 inch thick rolls (I use a dental floss trick to cut my cinnamon rolls that my mom learned from my great aunt. Using a decent length of dental floss, slide it under your roll, then wrap the two ends up and cross them over the top of the roll. Pull taut and the floss should criss-cross and slice the dough neatly without squishing it.) Place close together on a greased jelly roll pan (I leave about 1/2 inch space between them.) I don't bother to let these rise - they do great straight into the oven! Bake them for 10-15 minutes until they're all golden on top. While the rolls are baking, whisk together the orange juice, zest and powdered sugar. Drizzle over the rolls immediately when they come out of the oven and then let cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Makes approx. 1 dozen cinnamon rolls.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Caroline's Birthday

Wow.  Only 2 1/2 months slow. This beautiful girl turned 7 at the end of September.

She was so excited about her fairy cake.  This year was a simple family party for her.  She got around that by inviting her violin teacher and primary teacher over for dinner.  After church the Sunday before her birthday, her violin teacher stopped me to make sure that it was okay that she had been invited by Caroline for dinner.  I smiled and said yes, and then asked Caroline if there was anyone else I should know about that she'd invited, which is when I was informed that Sister Walgren was also coming.  We had a big fun celebration!  I'm so grateful for the people that influence her daily and that Heavenly Father has put in her life, especially those sweet women and the family members who shared her special day.

Caroline is growing into such a lovely young lady and it is so exciting to watch her personality and talents develop.  She has been playing piano for about 2 years now and came to me earlier this year wanting to play another instrument.  She gave me three choices - harp, flute and violin.  We chose violin, and she is doing very well! She is also taking dance lessons, which she adores - especially Jazz!  She loves learning and most of the time can be found with her cute little nose in a book, finding answers to her questions or just reading for pleasure.  She is currently on a 4th grade reading level!  She is a wonderful big sister and is always willing to help with her little brothers.  It's fun to watch her maternal instincts come out with Cooper. She loves all things girly, but isn't afraid to get dirty.  She loves learning about and exploring the natural world, working with and riding her pony, Bart, and has recently taken up archery as an interest! She reminds me so much of myself when I was younger, so it is fun to share a lot of those same interests!

Caroline's Birthday, Cont'd

Brand New

1 1/2 months old
5 months old

 1 year!  She liked her cake, and was put out that we interrupted her to take a picture.
 Sweet 2 year old.

 3rd Birthday - a John Deere dress and princess shoes! It doesn't get much better than that!

Almost 4 years old - Beautiful girl.

5th Birthday - matching dresses with her new doll, "Violet"

Almost 6 with her 4-H project

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Clayton is 5.  Today.  This morning, five years ago, I was snuggling with my giant (9 lb. 9oz) baby after a 24 hour long labor.  Totally worth it!  He is such a sweetheart, and I often refer to him as my gentle giant.  He is sensitive and loving and such a good helper.  He's the first to respond to Cooper's cries and can get a good gut-chuckle out of his baby brother easily.  He's unbelievably creative, and his imagination keeps me -and his brothers and sister- in stitches and thoroughly entertained everyday!  He is constantly changing identities - the dress-up box is the most used container of toys in the house!  I especially love that we have our own superhero flying around this house to help out in times of trouble....and even when there's no trouble to be found!  Clayton, you bring us so much joy and we love you!!!
Clayton (baby on the bottom) and the baby across the hall in the hospital. Born the same day, but with about 4 lbs. difference between them. 

About 3 months.  Serious deja vu.  I frequently look at Cooper and think, "I've seen this face twice before!" 

One Year Old! So. Stinkin'. Cute.

Second Birthday - shortly after the beginning of the Batman obsession.  
And also, just days after Connor's birth.  Hence the sad brownies with frosting piped not-so-carefully on top. But it was Batman.  So he didn't care.  (AND, he totally looks like Connor to me here.  Which is funny, because sometimes I don't think they look anything alike.)

Happy three-year-old.  (He got a superhero party that year and was beyond excited!) 

Four years old and keeping the peace in our home. 

Imaginative 5 year old.  Yesterday, he put on this interesting ensemble, without the "hat".  I told him that he sortof looked like a knight, to which he replied, "Then I need a helmet.  Where's the bumbo?"  I think it's interesting that he recognized the shape of a medieval knight's helmet's nose guard on the bumbo seat.  That's the kind of creativity I'm talking about.

The Big 3!

Connor turned 3 on Sunday.  I'm having a hard time believing that it's already been three years since he joined our family!  After our scary experience with an emergency C-section after over 24 hours of labor, we're glad that he's a healthy, VERY active, normal 3 year old!  He was the busiest baby while in the womb, and I think it's safe to say that it was pretty indicative of his personality. He's always going, going, going and keeps us on our toes, but we love him bunches and can't imagine what our family would be like without our little busy bee!
Brand New 

Going home from the hospital.  Already a happy little guy.

One year old. (It's killing me how much Cooper already looks like this!)

Second birthday. 

Such a big boy!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sizzlin' Summer

On Sunday, July 22, as we were getting ready to head home from church, Jake got a call from a friend, informing us that there were several fires in our area.  The closest was about 2 miles North of our home, on the land where some dear friends and neighbors run their cattle in the summertime.  As we got closer to our house that day, we could see a little smoke, but not much.  We could see smoke in a couple of other places to the West of us, which soon disappeared.  The smoke to the North also seemed to lessen that afternoon and we thought things were all taken care of.  About 45 minutes later, I heard Caroline, who had been sitting by the kitchen window, say, "Moooooooooom??????"  When I went to see what the matter was, we could see huge black billows of smoke that seemed to explode every few seconds as trees were taken out by a fire that seemed to be rushing toward us.  I had already packed the car with our necessities.  The men had cut firelines around our houses and filled buckets of water to prepare for the worst.  We learned that the fire was still about the same distance and our good friend, who works as a firefighter for the Forest Service, paid us a visit late that night to let us know we were in no danger. 

Monday morning was pretty smoky, but the helicopters and buckets were on the scene.
 Monday evening, the smoke was pretty scary looking, but we were again told that the fire seemed to be moving East and West with the wind change, but was still the same distance from us.  This is the view from our yard:
 Tuesday morning, the smoke seemed less.  Around noon, Clayton and Cooper and I headed to town for immunizations - leaving Caroline and Connor at the ranch with Jake.  When prepared to return 4 hours later, this is what we saw from town - about 30 miles from our house:
 From Highway 385, looking West probably about 15 miles from home:
 From our back porch:

The wind had turned East and the fire had gotten away from the firefighters, raced out of the woods and up to the "top".  I was stopped twice by deputies on my way home, as they were trying to keep as much unnecessary traffic as possible out of the area.  As I drove towards my house, I could see that the fire was heading North East - away from our property.  But it was heading toward friends and neighbors homes and had demolished the summer pasture for the friends I mentioned earlier.  It was awe inspiring and frightening to watch the orange flames lick the prairie and see trees just burst into a bright glow as I drove.  When I got home, I could still see huge flames shooting toward the sky as tree after tree was engulfed.

The wind changed West again, and fortunately, the fire turned into a burned out area from the fire we had in 2006.  . Because of the limited vegetation as a result of that burn and also with the blessing of a little bit of a rain shower the fire slowed and they were finally able to get a handle on it.  When Jake and I went to town later that evening and then returned, we couldn't even see flames, personnel or vehicles anywhere and we were told that by then, most of the firefighters had been able to finally go home.  How grateful we are for those who spent countless hours away from their families, in unbearable heat and rough terrain and conditions to protect our homes in this area!  And how grateful we are to Heavenly Father for hearing our prayers and protecting our home and all involved!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cooper's Blessing Day

 We blessed Cooper Memorial Day weekend.  We were blessed to have both sets of grandparents here to join in this special day!  I managed to finish his blessing outfit the night before.  It didn't turn out quite like I hoped it would.  Before Clayton was born, I made him a nice little outfit.  He arrived weighing 9 lbs. 9 oz. and barely fit into it when we brought him home, so I had to make him a new one before we blessed him 6 weeks later.  Connor was smaller and because of family scheduling, we blessed him when he was 2 weeks old, so he got to wear the Clayton original. Since they each have their own, I thought Cooper needed his very own too.

 After church, I had to put Cooper's tie on him that I made to match the other boys' Easter ties.  He wasn't thrilled.  But they all looked so cute!

 Jacob Robert Butler holding Cooper Robert Butler; Karl Douglas Butler Jr. holding Connor Douglas Butler; Lemuel Hardison Redd IV holding Clayton Hardison Butler

I come from a family of seven girls, no brothers.  When I was expecting Caroline, we didn't find out the gender and I was CONVINCED that we were having a boy.  I desperately wanted a boy for my Dad.  I called my belly Clayton for the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy, even though we also had the name Caroline picked out for a girl.  I was seriously surprised when she arrived, but tickled to have a little girl.  We still loved the name Clayton.  Jake was a big fan of Clayton Moore, the actor who played "The Lone Ranger".  He was brave, noble and true and stood for good and right. So when we found out the gender of Baby Butler #2, we knew exactly what to name him.  And in honor of him being my dad's first grandson, we gave him his Papa's middle name (and also the name Papa goes by):  Hardison.  It is a name that has been passed down for many generations.  The men who have borne this name are noble, brave, courageous men who stood for what was right and who had strong testimonies of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. We wanted our son to have that name. Hence, Clayton Hardison.

Shortly after we found out we were expecting Butler Baby #3, we watched a movie that had a little boy named Connor in it.  The boy wasn't a main character, but somehow it made an impression on Jake.  It took a little while for me to warm up to it, but the closer we got to delivering what we knew would be another little boy, the more it grew on me.  Connor means "wise" - a characteristic we hope he develops!  "Douglas", his Grandpa Butler's middle name (and also the name he goes by) seemed a natural fit with Connor.  Both Grandpa Butler and his father who had the same name are men of wisdom who have been strong in the gospel and have taught their children well.  We knew these qualities were ones we wanted our 2nd son to develop, and so we named him accordingly:  Connor Douglas.

When I was a little girl, the Stake President (a church leader with stewardship over a group of church members that might be compared to a Catholic diocese) I grew up listening to was a dear man named          F. Cooper Jones.  I don't remember much about the speakers at the semi-annual Stake Conferences that were held, and I don't remember what President Jones talked about each time.  But I do remember that any time he talked about his lovely wife, he never called her his wife.  In the most tender tone, that I still vividly remember, he referred to her as his "Sweetheart."  Even as a small child, I was profoundly impacted by the way he showed so much reverence and respect for his "Sweetheart", and I knew that someday, I wanted a man who spoke of me and treated me that same way.  15ish years later, when I met my "Sweetheart" and he asked me to be his forever, we got to choose which man would seal us for all eternity in the Holy Temple.  (In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that we can be married not just for our time on this earth, but for all eternity by the proper authority in the temple.  A temple had been built in my hometown of Monticello, Utah just a couple of years before we met and became engaged!)  There were two "sealers" at the Monticello Temple at that time - both men who had influenced my life growing up.  It was a tough choice, but ultimately an easy one at the same time, because the sealer named F. Cooper Jones had helped me to know that I would not settle for just anyone, and because of his example, I found the man who would (and does EVERYDAY) treat me with that same reverence and respect that I admired in President Jones.  We were married for time and all eternity on December 28, 2002.  For that reason, the name Cooper has great meaning to us.  And obviously, because of that great meaning, we gave our sweet Butler Baby #4 his Daddy's middle name:  Robert.  So Cooper Robert was named for the great love his parents have for one another and that we hope he will one day have and demonstrate for his own eternal "Sweetheart."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm Only 10 Weeks Late With This Post...

...But here it is, finally! 

Early in the morning on Wednesday, May 2nd, Jake & I made our trip to Chadron Community Hospital for our scheduled C-section.  Our doctor let me attempt to vbac after our emergency Cesarean with Connor.  However, because he was going out of town and I was already a week overdue, we opted for the C-section because we worried that if I did go into labor by myself and there were complications and our doctor wasn't here, we might be in trouble.  He's one of the few in our area that will perform a vbac. 

I really struggled with the idea that I would have another C-section.  I very much wanted to be able to give birth naturally again.  Each morning as I went on my walk, I pled with Heavenly Father that He would let me give birth naturally.  I would always tack on a "But Thy will be done" at the end of my prayers, but I wasn't really feeling it.  As I neared and passed my due date, one sweet friend who has had to have 3 C-sections reminded me that not going into labor by myself might be Heavenly Father's way of protecting the baby and me from unseen problems.  It was a very comforting and helpful thought.  A church leader spoke one Sunday about the birth of his son and the decision they made, guided by prayer, to have a C-section because of complications.  I felt that those remarks were directed at me from Heaven as well.  Through a very touching, sweet priesthood blessing from Jake the night before the surgery, I felt an overwhelming peace and comfort from Heavenly Father.  I knew it would be okay.  You KNOW you're at peace with a decision when you both set your alarms and you BOTH sleep through them.  Which is what happened the morning of the C-section.  We woke up about 10 minutes before we needed to leave the house.  What a blessing that we could have a good night's sleep!

Cooper Robert Butler came into the world at 8:29 a.m. on May 2nd!!!
He weighed in at 8 lbs. 13 oz. and measured 22 inches long!

There were SO MANY tender mercies from Heavenly Father that we experienced at his birth.
I was very concerned about him having a hard time breathing.  Heavenly Father knew that, and from the second they pulled Cooper out, he screamed.  It was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard.  I lay behind the drape, unable to see my sweet new boy yet, but praying silent thank-you's to Heavenly Father while tears streamed down my face.
Sadly, the camera batteries, which I was SURE were charged up, died shortly after Jake snapped just 2 pictures of our brand new baby.  So we don't have any photos of just the three of us immediately after delivery.
Shortly following the surgery, after I was all stitched up, they wheeled me into the recovery room and brought me our new little bundle.  I have always wanted to nurse my babies as soon as they were born.  For one reason or another, I was never given that opportunity.  But with Cooper, it was another tender mercy that I felt that the Lord blessed me with to help soothe the frustration and disappointment over not being able to labor and deliver the way I wanted to.  Having that sweet time to nurse my new baby and bond with him in the quiet of the recovery room, just the two of us, so soon after his arrival is a memory I will always treasure.
Considering the fact that the entire bottom 3/4 of my body had been pretty much asleep for most of the day, when they got me up to walk that evening after feeling had returned, I felt pretty darn good!  I paced the room for a couple of minutes with the CNA's following me with my IV and remarked that I really felt like I could walk the halls, I felt so good.  They said they'd never, EVER heard a C-section patient say anything like that.  But we did it.  And it felt great!  Another little blessing from a loving Father who knew his daughter couldn't stand to be laid up (which was actually another of my many concerns following major abdominal surgery - how on earth would I care for my little ones as I recovered?)

(A photo of Cooper and his siblings.  They really were excited to meet their baby brother, even if they don't look like it.  Unfortunately, they were all sick with colds and we didn't let them get too close, which they were quite sad about.  It was really hard for them to not kiss his sweet cheeks!  And please don't look at the lovely cuffs on my legs - I suffered a blood clot shortly after Connor's birth and they put those on me as a precaution this time.)

I truly felt Heavenly Father's hand throughout the birth of our sweet new addition and my recovery.  I was able to return home earlier than I thought I would, and I felt that my recovery was in many ways, much smoother than it was the first time I experienced a C-section.  I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and knew the desires of my heart.  But I also know that He sees the big picture and knows me better than I know myself.  I am so grateful for His loving care and for the trust he has in Jake and I to send these amazing little spirits into our home.  We are so blessed with each one of them!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Important Work

On the way home from church this afternoon, Clayton was telling me that Caroline was going to take care of his stuffed dog for him because he had to work. I reminded him that it is Sunday, and that we don't do work on the Sabbath. His reply: "But Mom, I have to do my Home Teaching!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First of the Year 4-H Activity

Caroline began participating in 4-H as a Cloverbud in 2011. Our little 4-H club out here had a 2012 kick-off activity at a friends house that is right on nearby Box Butte Resevoir. It was a beautiful day, and the kids had a blast sledding, riding on sleds pulled by 4-wheelers, ice skating and learning to play broom ball.

Love Bug and her friend A. being pulled by the 4-Wheeler driven by A's grandapa.

Sledding down the hill.

I had to get in on the fun somehow!

Bubba the dog, trying to give me kisses.

More 4-wheeling fun.

Helping drive!

Love Bug's attempt at ice skating. Our sweet, ever patient neighbor held her hand for at least 30 minutes as she figured out how to maintain her balance on the skates. She was doing pretty well by the time we had to leave!

Getting her out on the ice.

Fun, fun, fun!