How To Plan and Host a Fantastic Barbecue Party

How To Plan and Host a Fantastic Barbecue Party

After a long winter, during which many of us have been isolated, grilling season is off to a great start. With summer just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about hosting parties (within restriction limits!) and creating new memories with friends and family. What better way to embrace the season than to celebrate outside with a fantastic barbecue party that, with these simple steps, your guests will be talking about for weeks to come.

Plan The Basics

You’ll want to remember the four basics of any good party: food, drinks, comfort and seating. For food and drink, make a guest list to give yourself an idea of how much you might need and consider planning for one extra person so there is more than enough to go around. Keep your guests happy and comfortable can make for some of the best evenings together, so make sure to provide comfort and amenities wherever possible. A warm throw blanket over the back of the outdoor sofa and comfortable cushions can make everyone feel a little more at home.

Prep The Grill

As the grill and the food will most likely be the star of the evening, it’s essential to prepare your primary cooking source and ensure it’s ready to work all evening. Check your fuel supply, clean the grills and ensure all burners are working well before you are ready to cook for the evening. Performing this simple maintenance will ensure you’ll be able to cook all night, with no interruptions. It is a good idea to have your food prepped and ready for grilling before your guests arrive so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time socializing.


Set The Mood

Ambience can be a factor in how your party feels and flows. Help your guests feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible by setting the mood in your outdoor space. An outdoor fireplace is the ultimate source of added warmth, comfort and atmosphere for your outdoor space. For a similar effect to those flickering flames, groups of candles and outdoor lighting can bring a similar effect.

Don’t Forget The Details

The little details can make a big difference to your guests, whether it’s a few decorations to help your space feel festive or a homemade treat your guests can take away at the end of the night. No matter what you choose, keep in mind tiny details that seem insignificant will ultimately make your guests feel special while hosting your fantastic barbecue party.

Visit your local specialty hearth and barbecue dealer to see the exciting range of grill accessories and outdoor items available.

How To Expand Your Living Space With An Outdoor Fireplace

How To Expand Your Living Space With An Outdoor Fireplace

It’s no secret – when it comes to newer build homes, we’re seeing smaller living quarters, compact design, and a lot less of the sprawling floor plans we’ve seen before. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative when it comes to expanding your living space, not only within your home but outside as well. The best way to do this can be with an outdoor fireplace. Add a few crucial extras to pull it all together, and you can turn any outdoor living space into a relaxing oasis that is enjoyable year-round.

Create A Cozy Atmosphere

A fireplace may be the first thing you think of when designing your outdoor living space. Outdoor fireplaces are not only an inviting focal point, but they can also make any exterior area feel comfortable and relaxing. It’s also important to consider extra elements – such as seating, blankets and pillows – that can pull everything together, and create a unique and cozy place to enjoy the day.

Consider Lighting

When we think about decorating inside the home, we know lighting can make a massive difference in the way the room looks and feels. This is also true when decorating the area around your outdoor fireplace – lighting is essential. Overhead fixtures will light the entire space and make it inviting, no matter the time of day. If overhead lighting isn’t possible, consider using table lamps to bring warm, soft light to the space to make it feel like an extension of the inside. Lastly, whether battery-operated or wax, candles can bring in an extra layer of light that makes everything feel even cozier and more relaxing.

Seating Arrangement

The main thing to remember when arranging your seating in an outdoor setting is to center your furniture around a focal point – this is often an outdoor fireplace. Arranging your furniture this way will highlight the fireplace, and it also creates a spot to gather, whether with family members or friends, any time of year. Add an ottoman to complement your existing seating – this will provide extra comfort after a long hard day, and offers an additional place to sit in a pinch.


Small Details

If you look around your home, it can be easy to spot the small details that make the most impact, whether it’s a favourite family photo or a vintage decor piece that brings back a treasured memory. This same design principle applies to an outdoor space – adding some of those small details makes your entire outdoor area look put together. Don’t be afraid to bring an indoor plant vibe to your outdoor space with faux or natural potted plants to make the entire area feel like an extension of your home.

It’s the perfect time of year to start planning your outdoor living space. Visit your local retailer for advice and ideas on how to design the space that’s right for you. You can read more about creating an outdoor space here.

5 Must-Have Barbecue Accessories

5 Must-Have Barbecue Accessories

With the official arrival of grilling season in May, it’s the perfect time to get your grill prepped and ready for the warmer months. One important aspect of preparing for the season is ensuring that you have the essential accessories and utensils in your toolbox. These must-haves range in price and quality, so pick the brand and type that works best for you and your budget.


Meat Thermometer

When it comes to cooking meat or fish, it can be hard to judge if your item is properly cooked and ready. Consider a meat thermometer to add to your toolbox to take that tricky guesswork out of grilling – knowing the accurate internal temperature can help avoid overcooking or undercooking your dish. A thermometer with a magnetic back will stick right onto the grill for easy access, or you may want to look at digital thermometers which connect to an app on your phone.


Metal Tongs

Tongs are essential for anyone wanting to cook on the barbecue and is likely the one tool you’ll use the most. A set of quality long-handled tongs can make all the difference when it comes to cooking on your grill, and they will allow you to quickly handle any food that needs to be moved or flipped. Consider having at least two sets of tongs for your barbecue, so you always have one on hand.


Cast Iron Skillet

If you’re looking to change up your cooking style on the grill, consider adding a versatile cast iron skillet to your lineup. A cast iron pan will allow you to sauté and cook as you would on your stovetop, and it can be a great tool if you’re looking to try out baking on the barbecue. Check out our Baking on the Barbecue post for more handy tips, and for an easy and delicious grilled cheesecake recipe.


Grill Brush

Cleaning your grill is almost as important as cooking on it; you won’t be able to make quality food if your grill grates are dirty. So, if nothing else, make sure you have a good grill brush that will help remove debris and clean the grill after each use. By keeping up with this simple maintenance, you’ll find yourself having to deep clean your grill a lot less, and it will stay in good condition for longer. See grill brush safety tips here.


Grill Spatula

A spatula is essential for when you need a delicate touch flipping or moving food on your grill. Look for a spatula with a beveled edge and a long handle that allows you to get under food and lift it away from the grill while keeping your hands away from the direct heat.


These five basic barbecue accessories are perfect for any griller, whether you are a pro or a beginner. And remember: always keep your barbecue tools clean – wash them after every use and store them inside. If you must store them outside, keep them protected from the elements.

Baking On The BBQ

Baking On The BBQ

Now more than ever, cooking and baking have been bringing joy to Canadians. Creating new things in the kitchen has provided entertainment and comfort throughout the past year.  Spring is here and it’s time to take the fun outside. Your grill can offer some creative methods for making fabulous baked desserts the whole family will love, and as a bonus, you won’t have to heat your oven or your home to get that delicious result.

We went to the experts on this one and checked in with Kyla Kennaley, Pastry Chef and Judge: The Great Canadian Baking Show Season 3 & 4, to ask our most burning questions when it comes to baking on the barbecue.

Why bake on the barbecue?

“Well, it’s cooler to cook on a barbecue than in a hot kitchen, which can be especially important in summer. The grill allows for controlled heat, and you can create a convection current by heating the grill to temperature, turning off one side of the burners, and baking on that side. This can be a huge advantage! Start by experimenting with drop cookies when you’re ready to bake, as it’s easier to learn how to control your baking with cookies before moving on to cakes and pies. Remember, even heat is the key to success when baking on the barbecue!”

What are some of the advantages of using a barbecue?

“A barbecue heats up faster than your oven, and a convection current bakes more evenly and cooks more quickly than an electric radiant heat oven. The heat factor can be particularly helpful, especially for holidays, as it frees up your oven to cook your turkey or roast beef with the drippings in the pan. Otherwise, you can always reheat the meat on the barbecue after resting it for an added barbecue smoky taste.

Baking on the barbecue allows you to entertain your guests and enjoy the great outdoors while you’re preparing dessert. Try baking a cake, brownies or bread pudding in a cast iron pan baked right on the grill – it produces a nice crispy edge, and you can use your side burner to make a creme anglaise at the same time.

And lastly, the barbecue adds a smokiness that is essential to any great grilled meal or baked barbecue treat.”

Charcoal vs Gas?

“Gas is controlled even heat and popular in most homes and apartments. However, charcoal is also an excellent option for cooking and baking, and can produce similar results to a gas grill.” 

Favourite Barbecue Tools?

“I would suggest two essential tools for any serious griller: heavy oven mitts with long sleeves for excellent protection while working with the high heat of the barbecue, and a few good quality cast iron pans in multiple sizes so you always have what you need when the grilling mood strikes.”


This great advice is the perfect place to start if you are interested in baking on the barbecue at home. If you’re feeling inspired, consider trying out this cheesecake recipe from Maxim Lavoie, BBQ Guru, House of BBQ Experts. This cheesecake is delicious to eat as an afternoon snack or as a breakfast treat the next day, and the whole family can enjoy this cheesecake together. Maxim’s added words of advice: hide a piece for yourself; the cake won’t be there for long!

House of BBQ Experts Grilled Cheesecake



For the crust:

  • ½ cup graham crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Baking Spice Blend, such as House of BBQ Experts’ Cake spice mix
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

For the filling:

  • 375g cream cheese (1½ packages)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Suggestions for topping:

  • Fresh berries or fresh fruit slices
  • Caramel topping
  • Fruit compote
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Whipped cream

Cooking Method

  • Preheat the BBQ to 325 °F.
  • In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the crust. Press the mixture into the bottom of a barbecue-safe dish – make sure the crust is approximately 1cm thick
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, white sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on low speed after each addition, until your filling is well blended. Pour filling into the crust.
  • Bake over indirect heat on the BBQ for 20 to 25 minutes with the lid closed. After 20 minutes have passed, you may peek. Similar to baking in a conventional oven, to ensure the filling does not get overcooked, stick a toothpick in the center of the cheesecake. If it comes out clean, it is fully baked.
  • When baking is done, let the dish cool and then refrigerate for 6 hours.
  • Once the resting time is over, top as desired, serve and enjoy!

Max’s Pro Tip

“While waiting, prep a piece of meat for dinner. A low and slow BBQ recipe will keep the BBQ going all day, filling the air with an amazing smell and serving as a warming station at the same time. Truly, there is no better way to enjoy being outside!


How To Plan A Fireside Date At Home

How To Plan A Fireside Date At Home

This Valentine’s Day looks a little different for most of us due to the ongoing pandemic, but it doesn’t mean we can’t bring romance and date nights home. With the significant changes in the way we spend our time, it’s essential to make your date night at home feel just as exciting as if you were spending the evening out. The best part? You can come as you are, no dress code required.

Planning a successful fireside date night at home takes a few elements and a little creativity. The following five essential components are the perfect combination for the most romantic date. 



Food is one of the best parts of any evening, and that is especially true when it comes to date nights, as food can be an activity or provide an opportunity to try something new. Cooking together can be a great date night idea, no matter what you choose to cook. If you’re not interested in lifting a finger, this could be a great time to explore local restaurants that deliver directly to your front door. That way, you can be adventurous with new cuisine without having to leave the comfort of your couch.



The drinks or beverages you choose may seem like an insignificant detail but making sure to have options available can make your date night feel like an extra-luxurious occasion. Consider offering multiple drinks throughout the date, such as water to start, a cocktail or a glass of wine as you head into dinner, and finishing off the evening with a nightcap.  



The ambience in your home is a big part of the evening as it will truly help set the mood. Lighting the fireplace adds instant romance to your room, whether you have a wood, electric or gas fireplace. If you find yourself without a real fireplace in your home, you can create that ambience by turning on a fireplace video. No matter how you accomplish that fireside feeling, this little touch makes a huge difference, and also works well if you happen to be planning a fireside picnic in the living room for your date.



Keeping your home feeling warm and comfortable is a significant part of a successful date night, especially as you’ll most likely be spending the entire evening in one room. So set your home’s temperature or fireplace to a suitable level; if you’ve decided to get dressed up, you’ll want to feel comfortable without a jacket or a sweater. As the evening starts to wind down, consider setting out a few cozy blankets for extra comfort and warmth.



The evening’s entertainment portion is where you can get creative and have fun with your plans for the night. Do you prefer a quiet activity or something with a bit of excitement? Whether you plan to cook a meal for two together in the kitchen or a night of charcuterie and board games, choose something that both parties will love and enjoy. 


Now that you’ve gathered everything for your romantic fireside date night, all that’s left to do is pick the time. Consider sending your partner or spouse an invitation a few days ahead so they’ll know to reserve their spot on the couch. All of these little details can make up the perfect night at home and the ideal way to spend February 14th, or any day, with someone you love.