The Best BBQ and Kitchen Items for Summer Entertaining

This holiday, Memorial Day Weekend, ushers in the beginning of summer – and that means it’s time to fire up the grill!

If you live in certain parts of the country where you’ve been indoors since last fall or early winter, you’re probably ready for warm weather, sunshine and time spent outdoors, especially when it comes to cooking and entertaining.

We are fortunate to live in Northeast Florida, where we can get outside and cook during most of the winter. When we purchased our grill before moving here, we chose one with gas burners and a searing station next to the grill. It’s nice to have those extra burners to sauté fish, fry chicken, and prepare other foods that are best left outside to cook. Some food smells linger for days, and you don’t want that when friends are coming over.

We’ve sampled a few BBQ and food-related products during the last several months that we thought you’d like to check out now that we can all plan to have friends over and grill and dine outside again. Entertaining outdoors is always fun and keeps things easy and casual – and I think we’ve all gotten a bit more relaxed over the last few years after dealing with COVID-19.

So, if you’re ready to get back on your game and invite friends over for a backyard barbecue or casual dinner party, here are some products that might pique your interest in summer entertaining.

Fifth & Cherry

The boards come in several sizes (Image credit: Fifth & Cherry)

This gorgeous F&C 14 reversible cutting board from Fifth & Cherry floored me when I opened the box. This is a remarkable piece of craftsmanship that’s made in the U.S.A. from responsibly sourced wood, and it comes with a Lifetime Warranty. Our board is 14” wide x 14” deep x 1.75” high and weighs 7 pounds. It’s not lightweight.

If you’re like me, you’re looking at this thinking it’s way too beautiful to toss a hunk of barbecued meat on or use it to slice a loaf of freshly baked bread, especially with a knife with a serrated edge. So, instead, I use it as a platter to serve meats and cheeses and other appetizers to guests. It makes a great centerpiece or serving board to place on the buffet. However, if you want to, have at it and dice, chop and slice away – that’s what the cutting board is designed for.

The board is a beautiful way to display food for guests (Image credit: Fifth & Cherry)

The Fifth & Cherry cutting board features are “steel reinforced end-grain cherry wood (which is kinder to your knives), staggered seams for extra strength, and a proprietary 28-step process that includes hand clamping and gluing to prevent delamination.” Their warranty includes complimentary refinishing for life, so this is an investment piece that you can have forever. Just be sure to hand wash only, and use a mild soap.

I love the way the boards are packaged when you receive them (Image credit: Fifth & Cherry)

They have several sizes, and you can order one with an optional juice groove. You can even personalize your board or work with them to customize a board for a special gift – or for yourself.

Crate Chef

There’s a surprise inside (Image credit: Crate Chef)

If you’re a food lover and like to try new products – and like surprises – think about subscribing to Crate Chef, a small, woman-owned company that was created in 2016 to inspire home cooking. This online service offers subscription and gift boxes that are specially curated by a top-name chef, and the boxes feature some of their favorite food items, kitchen gadgets or even cookbooks. The one we received was selected by Chef Kenny Gilbert, which was a coincidence since he used to have a restaurant very close to our home. He still has one nearby in Historic Springfield (close to downtown Jacksonville), Silkie’s Chicken & Champagne Bar.

Chef Kenny’s picks

Chef Kenny is a winner of Top Chef, and he’s known as “The Beast In The Kitchen.” We enjoyed trying all three of his signature spices that were in the box. Oprah Winfrey said the fried chicken he made at her home in Hawaii with his Fried Chicken Seasoning was “the best fried chicken she’d ever had.”  She then selected Chef Kenny’s spices as some of her favorite things – and we all know what happens when Oprah does that – so definitely give these seasonings a go if you want to put some spice in your life this summer.

A Mexican inspired box by Pati Jinich (Image credit: Crate Chef)

We also enjoyed his other picks for the box, which included some of our favorites – an OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer. If you don’t have a full-size mandoline – or don’t have room for one – this is a great option to save space. Mandolines come in handy for slicing all types of foods but use it with caution since it’s easy to cut your hand if you’re not paying attention. We also love Savannah Bee’s Wildflower Honey, Bob’s Red Mill Red Quinoa, and Davidson of Dundee Orange Marmalade. We just purchased several kirby cucumbers to make quick pickles with the Pearl and Johnny Pickle Kit, so we’re interested to see how they turn out. In addition, the box came with a few recipes for the seasonings and information about the other products.

If you prefer, you can build your own custom box or create a unique gift for family or friends.

WarPig BBQ’s Rub and Spices

WarPig’s BBQ sauces and rub (Image credit: WarPig BBQ)

We didn’t waste any time trying these products since we love a moist and flavorful pork chop or barbecue chicken hot off the grill. We love that this company is a veteran-owned small business and that the owners are a competition BBQ Team – that’s why they know their stuff when it comes to grilling. These also donate a portion of their proceeds to Veterans Charities.

WarPig BBQ’s Ham Grenade High Impact Swine Slayer Elite BBBQ Rub has been a big hit on our tomahawk pork chops with its sweet and smoky blend that includes brown sugar, chipotle chili powder and mesquite liquid smoke. The rub is gluten and MSG-free, which is a plus. The rub is also terrific on ribs or butts. After the chops are almost done, we then slather on more good stuff – WarPig BBQs F.U.B.A.R. (For Use On Butts and Ribs), Elite BBQ Sauce. They said this award-winning sauce can be used on everything from egg sandwiches to smoked salmon. In 2017, F.U.B.A.R. beat out 600 other products from across the state of Texas to win first place in H.E.B.’s Quest for the Texas Best.

WarPig’s BBQ Competition Team (Image credit: WarPig BBQ)

S.N.A.F.U. (Situation Normal All Fowled Up) is their Elite BBQ Sauce for chicken or other fowl. We love the slightly sweet, citrusy, and smoky notes of this recipe. As they say, this is a “beautiful mahogany glaze” to use on your chicken. And it is. This is a winner-winner chicken dinner that will be a welcome addition to your outdoor barbecue menu on the upcoming holiday weekends.

WarPig BBQ also sells a rub and sauce for beef, a Flamethrower version of F.U.B.A.R. (need to try that one!), a Full Battle Rattle 6 Pack Combo, larger versions of sauces and WarPig BBQ labeled gear.

Lefty’s Spices

Walter Nash, Sr. (Image credit: Lefty’s Spices, LLC)

Lefty, (Walter Nash, Sr.) and his wife Margaret opened Lefty’s Barbecue in a small trailer along the highway in Hughesville, Maryland in 1989. Word got out that their food was worth traveling for, and soon people were coming from Baltimore and D.C. to order up Lefty’s ribs, chicken, North Carolina pulled pork and homemade side dishes.

Meanwhile, Margaret was experimenting with spice blends and rubs until she finally came up with the perfect recipe for Lefty’s ribs. They knew that the ribs would be a hit combined with the special rub, marinating the meat for a few days before cooking and then smoking the ribs for over four hours with hickory wood.

Today this African American family-owned business, based in Waldorf, Maryland, includes a restaurant and catering business, and they sell their Fish N’ Chicken Mix and B.B.Q. Sauce online through Lefty’s Spices, LLC – which are the items we sampled.

Lefty’s Spices Fish N’ Chicken Mix and BBQ sauces (Image credit: Lefty’s Spices, LLC)

While we love a crunchy piece of fried chicken, we opt to bake or air fry whenever possible. So, we were excited to see options for the lower calorie – and less messy – ways to prepare crispy chicken, fish or shrimp with Lefty’s mix. Back in the day, when you could find (and afford) chicken wings, we chose to prepare the recipe that came on a card with our box and gave the Air Fry Party Wings a go.

I’m a big fan of the wings you can prepare in the oven that are served slathered with warm, spicy buffalo sauce. We can get them super crispy in the oven – and they are easier to clean up – and still delicious and tender without the frying. So were the wings prepared in the air fryer with Lefty’s mix. We served them up with Lefty’s warm BBQ sauce on the side for dipping, and we really enjoyed the flavors – another winner-winner chicken dinner. And since we like it hot, we’re going to have to try their spicy versions of the Fish N’ Chicken Mix and BBQ sauce. The versions we sampled were the traditional mix and mild BBQ sauce.

This is Lefty’s Spices’ version of chicken wings (Image credit: Lefty’s Spices, LLC)

Consider ordering one – or several items – from this incredible lineup of fantastic food and kitchen products as you gear up for the Memorial Day Weekend holiday and other special get-togethers this summer. It’s great to support small businesses that make unique products, especially when we can share them with others.

For more barbecue recipes and entertaining ideas for your summer gatherings, check out these additional posts on

Bourbon Soy Marinated London Broil

St. Louis-Style BBQ Pork Steaks

Korean BBQ Chicken

Elevated Burgers

Classic Potato Salad

Four Bean Baked Beans

Tomato, Potato and Leek Gratin

Jarlsberg Vidalia Onion Pie

Blueberry Apricot Frangipane Tart

Rhubarb Cobbler

The Best Cherry Pie Ever

Free-Form Peach Crostata

* Top Image – Courtesy of Fifth & Cherry

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