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Easter in Philadelphia – Zitner Butter Krak Eggs – Need I Say More?

There were so many things I missed about being “home” when we lived in Florida.  Clearly, I missed my parents and my sisters.  I missed things like the Philadelphia Zoo and the Mummers Parade.  But Philly foods are hard to replicate, no matter how hard people in other regions try.

When we first came back to live in South Jersey 13 years ago, I enjoyed many of my Philly food favorites.  I sampled hoagies from all our old stomping grounds, and we grabbed cheesesteaks from Pat’s and Geno’s – just to be on the safe side of the “best” cheesesteak in the city.  I ate more TastyKakes than I care to admit, and even managed to keep a stash of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews handy.

But then comes Easter.  And for a few short weeks every year, a Philly area staple starts popping up.  Zitner’s Fine Confections has been pumping out delicious chocolate covered Easter eggs since Sam and Annie Zitner first began selling them out of their home in 1920.  There is a lot to be said for all of the Zitner’s eggs – the butter cream are among my favorite anywhere, and the peanut butter soar past Reeses peanut butter eggs.  But there’s a soft spot in my heart for the Butter Krak.


These dark chocolate covered eggs are buttery and sweet, and instead of the choppy little pieces of coconut you find in a lot of coconut cream eggs, the Butter Krak eggs have longer pieces of coconut, that give you a real punch of coconut when you bite in.  When I was a kid, the eggs were always kind of odd looking – almost fuzzy looking – because of the long strands of coconut poking through the chocolate, but through the years, I think we lost some of that due to the use of more contemporary machines.  I miss that texture, but the taste is still there – creamy, coconutty, and delicious.

I look forward to Easter every year – the ham and potato salad, the egg dying with my kids, making the Easter baskets (ummm, I mean suggesting to the Easter bunny how to fill the baskets) – but Zitner’s has shouted “It’s Easter” in our house since I was a little girl.  I’m so happy for those nostalgic moments I can share with my girls.

butterkrak 2

The Sort of Seven Layer, Maybe Nine Layer, I Lost Count Layer Dip

My husband is the king of buying stuff we don’t need, never tried, and does not appear on any shopping list I’ve ever written.  Costco is like a playground for him.  There are aisles of things I never knew I wanted clogging up precious space in my freezer, pantry, or refrigerator.

A few months ago, he discovered a 7-Layer Dip, a multi-colored, who knows what’s in it, what are those funky colors anyway pasty looking concoction that is apparently delicious on tortilla chips and eaten during sports.  Did I mention my husband doesn’t watch sports?  But, if there’s a sport on any of the 43,000 ESPN channels, it’s okay to eat this dip.

7 layer dip fixed 2

No one else in my house will eat this gooey, nasty looking stuff.  It might be the way my nose wrinkled up when I opened the container for the first time, wretched, gagged, and then held my nose while handing it to Jim to take to his desk and eat in solitude.  When I did get the courage to eat it – blech.  It was every nasty thing I thought it would be.

At one point, I said to my husband, “I could probably make that – and better.”  Ladies, don’t try this at home.  As soon as you say, “I can”, you will.  No need to add to your already overwhelmed life by taking on even more chores.  But really, how hard could this dip be?  Right?

Here’s the hardest part – keeping track of how many layers there are, so you can accurately relate to friends and family who are enjoying it the exact name of the dip.  And you know me with math – once we hit layer 4, we’re talking numbers I’m too afraid to tackle.  This is really an easy dip to throw together.  And you know what?  My kids – and, okay, me too – like the homemade version.  MUCH better.

So – here’s how you do it.

1 can of refried beans

1 packet of Taco seasoning

fresh guacamole (I get mine at Wegman’s, about 16 ounces, but you can make your own)

1 container (16 oz) sour cream

1 jar of your favorite Salsa



Mexican or Taco spiced cheese


To prepare, take the can of refried beans and put into a mixing bowl.  Empty the packet of Taco seasoning into the beans, and using a hand blender, mix together.  Spread this layer in the bottom of your dish (I use a glass baking dish).  Next, spread the guacamole, followed by the sour cream, followed by the salsa.  Top the salsa with lettuce, top the lettuce with the cheese, and then top with diced tomatoes and sliced olives.

It is so much fresher tasting, not as plasticky, and is really quite good, if I do say so myself.

If you want to add layers, cooked and diced chicken breast makes a nice addition, as does seasoned ground beef.  You could leave out the salsa to make it less runny, but add jalapenos or other hot peppers to give it more of a bite.

The best thing about the dip is the ability to adapt it to your family’s preferences.  And if, like me, you don’t care a whole lot about their preferences, but want to make it as easy on you as possible, you can slant the recipe to keep it simple.

The fresh dip can be kept in your fridge about 2 days, but I wouldn’t go much longer than that.  I barely lasts that long in my house.

7 layer dip fixed


End of a Beautiful Love Affair – Sorry, Starbucks


What’s a girl to do?  Devastating betrayal.  Sneaky, behind my back antics.  Dare I say it – cheating?

Where did things go wrong?

It’s not me – it’s them.

So late last night, just as insomnia was losing to OHMYGODI’MTIRED, my husband comes hurriedly into the bedroom on his phone and asks if I’ve reloaded my Starbucks card.  Unless I’ve done some sleep reloading, no, I haven’t; but just to be on the safe side, I pull my phone over and check my Starbucks card balance on my iPhone app.  Nope – no changes at all.

A normal person would have wondered why my husband was checking Starbucks card balances at midnight, but with my feet all warm and snuggly underneath a sleeping cat, and my pillows sufficiently cooled off from the few minutes I sat up to check my card balances, I drift back off to sleep.

This morning, I roll over and see my husband, who would normally be snoring, staring at me.

“Someone charged $400 on our credit card through our Starbucks card.”

Wait, did he just say he bought me a $400 Starbucks card?  Dude is so going to have a happy anniversary weekend!

Oh, wait, no.  No one’s getting lucky.

Someone hacked into our Starbucks account, and reloaded one of our Starbucks cards with four $100 charges.  Then, the money was transferred off of our Starbucks card to an unknown Starbucks card (well, unknown to us).

Thank goodness my husband gets notified immediately when a charge hits our bank account.  He was able to call Starbucks, and while there wasn’t anyone in the security office to help us, they took all of our information to have someone handle it as soon as they came into work this morning.  He then called our bank, and they immediately cancelled our bank cards; cancelled three of the $400 charges, assuming they were duplicates made in error, and promised to follow up with the last $100 as soon as we got more information from Starbucks.

Starbucks called us back early this afternoon, and they also took aggressive steps to rectify the situation.  They were able to cancel the card that was on the receiving end of our balance transfer, reversed the charges made on our credit card, and even put back on our card the small balance that we did have on there that was stolen in the balance transfer to the stolen card.

I did a quick internet search, and I found quite a few cards available on eBay in the $400 range – some with the exact wording but different sellers.  I also found articles online about a possible security breach detected with the iPhone app that was supposed to be an issue only if your cellphone was stolen.

Just be really careful and monitor your Starbucks cards – especially if your card is automatically reloaded.  And please don’t buy your Starbucks gift cards from eBay – get them at Starbucks.  If something seems too good to be true – like $80 worth of free Starbucks – it probably is.

It’s scary.  You feel violated, unsafe, and worried.

Let’s just hope I can pick up the pieces and move on.  If you see me buying WaWa coffee, you’ll know the pain was just too much.