7 Ways to Reignite Your Summer BBQ

Late Summer BBQ
(Getty / Klaus Vedfelt)

In the closing days of summer, it’s important to rack up as much time behind the grill as possible before the long winter descends to rob us of all joy. Don’t get us wrong, we know dads would keep the grill lit during a blizzard, but you might have trouble convincing your family to join you out on the deck. 

Now, maybe you’ve got a tried-and-true burger blend recipe, or perhaps you like to rely on “grill instinct.” Either way, the latter half of summer is the best time to get inspired with new ideas to bring it home when you fire up the coals. (Or crank up the propane. We don’t judge). Here are some of our favorite ways to turn any ole’ BBQ into the neighborhood event of the year.

Switch Up Your Steak

(Kroger)

Nothing beats a perfectly grilled steak, but once you find a cut and method that works, it can be hard to branch out and try new things. Steaks are sacred, but their simplicity should encourage a spirit of adventure.  Some of the thinner cuts like flanks, skirts, and hangers don’t get the love they deserve considering their fantastic flavor and perfect charring. As for seasoning, a little salt and pepper are all you need, but a pinch of Herbes de Provence can add an elevated dimension to your flavor profile.

If you are more of a traditionalist, you can still add new life to the classic cuts by tweaking your cooking method. Wood planks have been a staple of seafood grilling, but it’s a great way to add a deep, smoky flavor to a T-Bone or other hefty steak as well. It’s excellent for keeping burgers juicy, too.

Better Apps = Better BBQ

Gourmet Pigs in a Blanket
(Kroger)

Sure burgers and dogs get all the cookout credit, but to keep people happy, you need a killer spread placed from the get-go. 

Pineapple may be a controversial usurper of pizza, but it’s a perfect way to add bright and refreshing flavor to a grilled meal. Wrap some perfectly cut chunks in bacon, then brush with a simple glaze made by whisking together brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and soy sauce. See the step-by-step here.

Of course, let’s not overlook the greatest party app known to humanity, the Pig in a Blanket. Skip the canned meat, and go for a big ole’ Private Selection smoked sausage, cut up and wrapped in puff pastry for a gourmet take on this favorite. You can find a more detailed recipe here.

Help Your Hot Dogs

Hot Dog Bar
(Kroger)

Now let’s get to the main event. Why are so many hot dogs served with all the flair of one of those eating competitions where buns are dunked in water to be more esophagus efficient? Be better than that. Hot dogs deserve it. 

Toasting buns is a given, but stand out with bread that does more work than hold the dog. An inspired example: . You can also wow the crowd with a toppings bar. Our favorite options are chopped roasted red peppers, olives and feta cheese for a Mediterranean dog, or cubed ham and leftover pineapple from those bacon bites we talked about, to turn the BBQ into a luau. 

Show Off With Sides

Gourmet Corn
(Kroger)

If your idea of baked beans is…just a can of baked beans, then we could venture a guess as to why people aren’t writing home about yours. Simmer them with a couple of tablespoons of Memphis inspired BBQ sauce and dijon mustard to add waves of flavor; if you still have some bacon left, here’s where it goes.

Grilling corn on the cob makes for deliciously charred kernels, but there’s so much more you can do to make your husky bois stand out. Set aside the basic table salt and try experimenting with more exotic flavors. Chimichurri makes for a bold Argentinian flavor, while a little Garam Masala spices add an Indian touch.  If you’re more an Italian fan, a brush of garlic butter with basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese is *chef’s kiss.*

Finishing Touches

Chimichurri Steak
(Kroger)

We talked about chimichurri for corn, but don’t forget that it’s a perfect complement to some of those thin cuts of steak we were playing around with, too. The fresh herbs, lime, and garlic make for an easy but memorable finishing touch to any meat, but it’s also a unique dipping sauce for fries or -better yet- drizzled over a savory potato and veggie packet.

Also, who says you can’t break out the grilling tongs for date night? Skip the tie and jacket, and bring the steakhouse to your backyard with more gourmet finishing sauces like bearnaise and porcini truffle. She might not even notice that you snuck in a late-season grill session.

Get Some Saucy Sauce

BBQ Ribs
(Kroger)

The sauce is boss when it comes to BBQ, and the more playful you get with yours, the more exciting your cookout will be. Alcohol-infused sauces are maturing as a niche gem for foodies and grillmasters alike, and Kroger’s Private Selection has introduced more nuanced varieties than the sticky-sweet bourbon sauce you may be used to.

Shred up a slow-roasted pork shoulder and mix in Pale Ale & Mustard Sauce for a BBQ classic without having to dig up a whole pit. Barrel-Aged Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Sauce maintains the sweet profile with some oakiness for a fuller flavor that’s excellent for spatchcock chicken.

Weeknight Grill

Grilled Pizza
(Kroger)

Okay. Not every day can be a weekend. Sad but true. Still, the grill is just sitting there; why not use it for more casual weeknight dinners on top of your cookout extravaganzas? 

Frozen pizzas are lifesavers for exhausted parents everywhere, and can go from freezer to plate after 15 minutes on the grill. Now, we’re #PepperoniGang4Life, but an Italian Buffalo Mozzarella and Arugula is a perfect pie for the last days of summer. 

Then there is the ultimate Tuesday meal: tacos. You may not think of Taco Tuesday as a grilling occasion, but before you head to work one day, toss a strip steak into a baggie with a healthy dollop of carne asada marinade. By the time you get home, you’ll have the main ingredient ready to hit the grill, and it’s taco-time by 7. Check out the full recipe here.

Just because Summer is winding down doesn’t mean you have to put your grill skills to rest. This article is sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection, which is designed to elevate everything on your plate. From gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, each Private Selection product is designed to make your summer menu delicious and simple. Shop online, or at your local Kroger store year-round, because grilling seasons may come and go, but dads know how important it is to keep their game up, even in the offseason. 

 

Father Figures: Blessed

“Being a dad is the best job in the world.

I’m a firefighter and am exposed to the harsh reality of the real world through death, sickness, and other unfortunate situations. Being able to hug my kids and wife allows me to humble myself through any hard times we may go through, because I am blessed that we are a healthy family with a roof over our heads.

The real world isn’t known to many, nor is it an absolute to those living in it. As long as I can make a difference and teach my children that they are blessed and therefore owe it to society to be a better person and help others, I can sleep at night.

Being a dad is truly the best job in the world.”

– Johnny Gray III

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

This Star Wars Cantina-Themed Bar Is the Ultimate Nerd Palace

Star Wars Cantina Bar
(Instagram/scumandvillainycantina)

We all need something to look forward to. Especially now. Even as some states start reopening at reduced capacity, there are plenty of cities that are still on total lockdown. And let me tell you, when your city is on total lockdown and you discover that there is a Star Wars Cantina-themed bar within walking distance of your home, time starts moving very, very slowly.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Have you ever danced with a droid in the pale cantina light? . . #scumandvillainycantina #scifisafehouse

A post shared by Scum & Villainy Cantina (@scumandvillainycantina) on

This LA establishment is called Scum and Villainy Cantina (of course) and it is a self-proclaimed “friendly neighborhood geek bar.” Before you start having kittens because you clicked on the website and saw a guy gesturing at you to ‘live long and prosper,’ know that this bar caters to all geeks, not just the Star Wars variety. That’s right, this is a place where Trekkies, Star Wars fans, Battlestar Galactica fans, and every fan of niche nerdom can come together and live (and drink) in harmony. Vulkans can rub shoulders with Jawas and Cylons can shoot pool with Dr. Who. You are encouraged to dress up and they even host geek-themed tournaments for a variety of properties:

Some of their cocktails include The Mind Trick, Gold Bourbonkini, The Starbuck, Witness Me, Furiosa, I Aim to Misbehave, and the Dumbledore Special. Wondering what blue milk tasks like? This place has got you covered—and they’re even doing curbside pickup for those of us who can’t wait until the quarantine is over:

Just listen to how they describe themselves on their website:

Scum and Villainy Cantina is an intergalactic bar nestled deep within the wretched hive of Hollywood, CA. Inspired by the best drinking establishments from your favorite sci-fi and fantasy movies, Scum and Villainy is the geek bar you’ve been looking for.

Costumed bartenders join in the debate while mixing cocktails from a themed menu. Our laid-back atmosphere and strict “no bullying” mission creates a #ScifiSafeHouse not just for casual and mega-fans alike, but for anyone looking for a change of pace from the typical bar scene. Flying solo? Searching for your tribe? We definitely serve your kind here!

I will wait for you Scum and Villainy Cantina. I will wait for you as long as it takes.

Boy with Cerebral Palsy Completes Marathon, Raises Over 50k for Charity

Boy with Cerebral Palsy Completes Marathon, Raises Over 50k for Charity
(Facebook/Tobias’s Marathon Challenge)

Getting any kind of physical activity during quarantine is a struggle. Maybe you made the mistake of building everyone in your family a kickass Millennium Falcon bed and nobody has gotten up in weeks. At this point, even the couch I got at Goodwill feels safer than dealing with all of the unknowns happening in the world. Some people are turning to video games to stay fit inside, but not everyone has the money for expensive gaming consoles. 9-Year-Old Tobias Weller from Sheffield, England proved that all you need to get moving is your own body, and in his case, his trusty walker.

Tobias Weller has cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder that can cause weakness, stiffness, involuntary movements, and problems with posture. Symptoms vary from person to person, but in Tobias’s case, it meant that before quarantine began he was unable to walk more than 50 meters a day with the assistance of his walking frame. Early on in quarantine, Tobias saw news of Tom Moore, a 100-year-old WWII veteran who set out to raise money for COVID relief by walking laps around his home. This absolute beast of a man blew his $1,200 goal out of the freaking water and raised nearly $40 million dollars to date. Tobias watched “Captain” Tom Moore, slowly, carefully, holding onto his walker, putting one foot in front of the other as he circled his garden. Tobias looked down at his own walker and had an idea. If this man can do it, why can’t I?

So he did.

Every single day, Tobias began to walk. 50 meters at first, and then a bit more. Tobias walked through the pouring rain, powerful winds, and if he got lucky, a bit of sunshine. Initially, Tobias planned to walk 1 km, a truly lofty goal when your daily limit is supposedly 1/20th of that. Much like his hero Captain Tom, though, Tobias blew his goals out of the freaking water. Not only did Tobias end up walking up to 750 meters a day, but he also completed a whole. Dang. Marathon. 26 miles since he began his journey on March 21st. Friends, neighbors and even local police came to cheer for Tobias on his daily walks, beaming with pride at his determination.

Tobias stated during his appearance on This Morning, “I love it when I walk up and down my street every day because my neighbors come out and cheer for me – some of them even say, ‘We salute you, Tobias,’”.

Tobias’s campaign has raised over $50,000 so far for his chosen charities, Paces School where he attends classes, and Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Tobias has proven to us that all you really need to accomplish your goals is the willingness to put in the work, and the determination to keep pushing when things feel insurmountable.

We salute you, Captain Tobias.

Quentin Tarantino Calls ‘The Social Network’ the Best Movie of the Decade

The Social Network
(Columbia Pictures)

One of the fun things about pop culture is all the material it provides us, not merely to consume, but to discuss, interpret, and argue about. Talking about movies and TV is a fun distraction, and sometimes we can really use one. Like right now.

There are no mathematical equations to measure whether The Godfather II is better than Casablanca, or if Sgt. Pepper’s is better than Exile on Main Street. That lack of empirical truth allows for infinite takes, and for people who are interested in arguing, there is endless fodder for debate.

Sometimes, even the people making the art join in.

That’s what director and cinephile Quentin Tarantino did recently when he spoke to France’s Premiere magazine about the best movies of the decade.

He was pretty definitive about his answer too. “It’s ‘The Social Network,’ hands down… It is number 1 because it’s the best, that’s all! It crushes all the competition,” QT said, christening David Fincher’s movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook as his favorite film of the decade.

The Social Network hit theaters in 2010 and was roundly acclaimed from the start, for Fincher’s direction, Aaron Sorkin’s snappy, pithy dialogue, and Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of the vindictive Zuckerberg. It’s not quite a left-field choice, having been nominated for 8 Oscars and winning three (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Original Score), but not everyone agrees. Which is fun!

Twitter was quick to respond, with users citing their own favorites instead, like Moonlight, Inception, Fury Road, and more.

A few people had some fun with their suggestions.

Tarantino cited Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk as his second-best movie of the decade. Originally he had it on 7th on his list until he watched it a third time. “It wasn’t until that third time where I was gauging it for [my best of the decade list], that I could finally see past the spectacle into the people, into the people of the story. I could finally see the forest for the trees,” he explained.

What’s your favorite movie of the past 10 years?

The Dad Of The Month, May 2020: Andy Salamone

(Photos courtesy of Pier Reiter)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for May, 2020: Andy Salamone. Andy, who lost his eyesight at an early age, is an example of a man who has beaten the odds over and over again to exemplify exceptionalism, not only in his career, but in his role as a father. His brother, Pier, bragged up-and-down about Andy in his nomination:

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“Andy is my older brother. He is totally blind after losing his sight in both eyes to the cancer Retinoblastoma at the age of 3. Andy never lets anything get in his way – he was on the high school and college (division 1) wrestling teams. He took his 1st government job in Pearl Harbor—far from family and the familiarity of Pennsylvania. After that, he settled in Washington DC and is now working for Defense Intelligence Agency.

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“He and his wife also have a 9-year-old boy, Michael. Andy slid into the role of ‘dad’ without missing a beat – changing diapers, giving bottles, cooking meals, etc. As the years went on and Michael grew, Andy never let his vision slow his abilities & activities as a dad. Most recently Andy has embarked on numerous Boy Scout trips with Michael that include skill activities, hiking, and overnight camping trips.

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“Andy is there for Michael in every way he needs whether it’s help with homework, someone to have a lightsaber battle with, someone to construct the LEGO kits with, or just someone with whom he can be emotionally open when needed. Andy not only demonstrates all these amazing dad qualities to his own son, but to my two young daughters and our other young nephew.

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“It is also worth mentioning that he is a phenomenal cook (minus the time he lit a box of cereal & his oven mitt on fire) and can still beat me in a game of HORSE in basketball. Andy has defeated the odds and overcome discrimination as a blind man and never let anything get in his way. Yet, despite his work and extracurricular accomplishments, if you ask him what his favorite and most rewarding job is, he will say being Michael’s dad.”

To honor Andy and his unwavering dedication to killing the dad game, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Thanks for showing us what outstanding fatherhood in the face of adversity looks like, Andy!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

JK Simmons Signs on to Keep Playing J. Jonah Jameson in the MCU

Simmons is back as Jameson
(Sony Pictures)

At this point, there are so many superhero movies, we’re all gonna get a chance to play one. Superman has been played by three actors (and countless more on TV), Batman changes actors every other year, even the Hulk has smashed through multiple guys. Eventually, Iron Man and Captain America and the other Avengers will be rebooted as well. It’s just the way it is.

Some things, however, stay the same. Spider-Man has been rebooted a few times over the past 15 years, but some actors are so well-suited to their roles, they can’t be replaced. I’m talking about JK Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire. He is so perfect as the bombastic editor that the people behind an entirely different Spider-Man trilogy are not even bothering to replace him.

In Spider-Man: Far From Home’s momentous post-credit scene, Peter Parker is shown being outed as the wallcrawler by Jameson, in a surprise cameo by Simmons. People immediately speculated if the cameo was just a fun Easter egg for fans or the start of something, and based on an interview Simmons recently did with PeopleTV’s CouchSurfing it seems it’s the latter.

He talked about his experience auditioning for Sam Raimi, and whether he’ll appear in more MCU movies as Jameson. He’s not entirely sure – replies, “I don’t know if I would use the word expect” in regards to being in more movies, but be admits he did sign on to do sequels if they choose to use him.

He’s happy to keep playing the role. “It’s great to have the opportunity, as these things evolve, to be one of the holdovers from the previous version.”

Father Figures: Pinky Swear

“One afternoon, during a game of peek-a-boo with her brother gone wrong, my one-year-old’s pinky creeped into the hinged side of the door right before he shut it.

I got the call at work and met her at the hospital. She was in agony and wailing was the only way she knew how to communicate her pain and fear. Every nurse and doctor had to unwrap the dressing to verify that her pinky was still hanging on (it was, by a piece skin half way up the digit), all the while making attempts to comfort by saying that if you have to lose a finger, you don’t need your pinky!

I held her close as the ER nurses attempted to put an IV in her foot. (My advice is to get them to call a NICU nurse straight away, it will save a lot of heartache and pain.) I had to walk out one or twice to regain my composure after that.

We took a 30-minute ride to the children’s hospital, and the surgeon arrived; it was now 3am. The young doctor was the first person to put me at ease, sitting down and explaining how the procedure was going to go… and that he felt confident that her finger would be okay. About an hour in the OR then she was resting in recovery, finally at peace.

I was exhausted and just wanted to hold my baby girl. I climbed up on the gurney and laid with her. I’m thankful this moment was captured, I’ll always be there for you kiddo.

Dads are always there when you need them.

-Chris Tischler

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Daughter Fulfills Father’s Dying Wish by Getting his Artwork to Sting

Daughter Fulfills Father’s Dying Wish by Getting his Artwork to Sting
(Instagram/theofficialsting)

In typical dad fashion, fathers will often do anything for their daughters in their times of need. From building a custom video game controller for a daughter with disabilities to bringing trick-or-treating 30,000 feet above ground, dads are gonna dad. When the tables turn and it’s a dad’s time of need, it becomes the daughter’s turn to step up. And that’s exactly what Elizabeth Santiago did.

According to the touching story Santiago shared with Humans of New York, her stepfather, Domingo Santiago, came into her life when she was five years old. He encouraged her creativity, celebrated her successes, and even built her very first bike from scraps. Domingo was an extremely talented artist but put his creativity aside to pursue a more stable career as a police officer. Before putting away his paint and brushes for good, he painted one last painting – a copy of an album cover, depicting a portrait of Sting. He dreamed of one day returning to his art, holding onto the hope of “when I retire”.

Sadly, that distant dream of retirement never came. In 1998, Domingo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. MS is a disease that impacts your nervous system as well as your brain. Symptoms vary, but it can cause things like chronic pain, vision loss, fatigue, and weakness. Domingo’s symptoms began to worsen over time until eventually, he was unable to stand. In his final days, Domingo and his family were faced with the difficult task of sorting through his belongings. Domingo gave instructions for each and every item, dictating where it should go and to whom it should be given.

Upon rediscovering the old Sting painting in a dusty box, the question was posed again. Where should this go?

Elizabeth Santiago recalled, “His response was immediate. ‘Give it to Sting,’ he said. All of us started laughing. But Dad grew very serious. His eyes narrowed. He looked right at me, and said: ‘Give it to Sting.’ So I guess that’s my final assignment.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

“I was five when he became a person in my world. I didn’t know exactly who he was. I just knew that there was someone around that was making my mother smile. I had to look way up to see him. I’d never met someone so strong. He’d tell me to hold onto his wrist, and he’d lift me into the sky with one hand. He worked at an auto shop, airbrushing designs onto the side of vans. I think he dreamed of being an artist. But he needed something more stable. So after he decided to marry my mom, he became a cop. He never lost touch with his creative side. He was always building things around the house—making things look fancier than we could afford. He built my first bike from scraps. He encouraged me to read. He encouraged me to write. He loved giving me little assignments. He’d give me a quarter every time I wrote a story. Fifty cents if it was a good one. Whenever I asked a question, he’d make me look it up in the encyclopedia. One day he built a little art studio at the back of our house. And he painted a single painting—a portrait of Sting that he copied from an album cover. But he got busy with work and never used the studio again. He was always saying: ‘when I retire.’ ‘I’ll go back to art, when I retire.’ ‘I’ll show in a gallery, when I retire.’ But that time never came. Dad was a cop for twenty years. He was one of the good ones. The kind of cop you see dancing on the street corner. Or skateboarding with kids. But in 1998 he was diagnosed with MS. First there was a little weakness. Then there was a cane. Then there was a wheelchair. It got to the point where he couldn’t even hold a paintbrush. We did his hospice at home. He seemed to have no regrets. He’d been a wonderful provider. He’d raised his daughters. He’d walked me down the aisle. During his final days, we were going through his possessions, one by one. He was telling me who to give them to. I pulled the Sting painting out of an old box, and asked: ‘What should I do with this?’ His response was immediate. ‘Give it to Sting,’ he said. All of us started laughing. But Dad grew very serious. His eyes narrowed. He looked right at me, and said: ‘Give it to Sting.’ So I guess that’s my final assignment.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Mickey Sumner, Sting’s daughter, saw the heartbreaking story. She immediately knew what she had to do. Sumner got in touch with Santiago, and soon enough, the painting was held by the very hands it depicted.

Sting’s official Instagram page shared a picture of Sting and Domingo’s painting side by side with the caption, “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED”.

Two daughters united to make a dedicated father’s last request a reality. The pair also started a fundraiser for the National MS Society in memory of Domingo, which has raised over $40,000 so far. Santiago was faced with a seemingly impossible task that ended in the most beautiful, unlikely way. Ok, so maybe not EVERY little thing she does is magic, but this is pretty dang close.

Tweet Roundup: The 15 Funniest Quarantine Era Tweets From May

May's Quarantine Tweet Roundup
(Getty/E. Audras)

It’s either month three or month 347 of quarantine, at this point, it’s hard to say. With every day feeling like it’s blending into the next, time has more or less lost all meaning. Fortunately for us, humor hasn’t! What better way to pull yourself out of the repetitiveness of life in isolation than to laugh at the absurdity of it all? Please enjoy 15 of the funniest, most relatable tweets about living in the era of quarantine.

Maybe you’ve developed a new self-care routine,

Even though everything seems a little bit harder right now.

Or maybe you’ve discovered new ways to make money,

And taken some time to challenge yourself.

Though being at home constantly can be challenging enough.

It may be helpful to remember that you’re not the only one struggling,

And missing life before all of this started,

Finding little things to keep you going.

But we’re all adapting,

And trying to make the best of it.

Listening to the experts,

Making new friends along the way,

And remembering that it’s ok to treat yourself right now.

Because even though there may be some bumps along the way,

There’s so much to look forward to.

Parenting in the quarantine era is tough, so here are 15 funny parenting in isolation tweets to ease the tension.