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.

Happy National BBQ Month!

Happy National BBQ Month!

May is National BBQ Month, and there is no better time to visit your local retailer to check out the latest grills and accessories. For many of us, our outdoor living space becomes a second kitchen and dining area during the summer, and a grill is often our primary way of cooking all season long. Making the right choice when purchasing a new barbecue or accessory will give you years of enjoyment whether it’s outside in your backyard or patio, or at your dining room table.


5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying

Buying a new barbecue of any type is an investment. To ensure you are getting the right grill or accessory for you, it’s important to ask yourself some questions before purchasing.

  1. How much time will I have to cook? Each type of barbecue typically requires varying levels of time commitment. If you’re often on the go and hard pressed for free cooking time, consider the convenience of gas or electric grills. Love to spend time cooking? A charcoal grill, smoker or kamado may suit you best. See below for more details on grill types.
  2. What’s my budget? Grills come in a wide range of prices, meaning you should be able to find one within your budget. If finances allow, purchasing a more premium grill will provide more features, a potentially longer life span of the unit, and a stronger return on your initial investment.
  3. How much space do I have? If you have a big backyard, consider a larger grill, perhaps with a kitchen island to create a focal point for relaxation and entertaining. Premium portable or more compact grills are ideal for condos and apartments. Do you frequently host large gatherings? Go big on your barbecue size to make the most of these special occasions.
  4. What do I love to cook? We often default to the foods we love the most. Many grills come with extra features ideal for certain foods. Think rotisseries if you love a roasted chicken, or side burners if you love soups and stews. Ample space for a pizza stone might be crucial if you love a good pie.
  5. What accessories do I want and need? This is also a great time to evaluate ideal accessories. Ensure you have a good protective cover, proper cleaning tools and a working meat thermometer. It also might be fun to splurge on new accessories that meet your cooking style, such Bluetooth temperature gauges, griddles for breakfast cooking, veggie baskets and more. Read more about the 5 must-have accessories every griller should have here.


What’s the Best Grill for You?

With so many types of grills in all forms, sizes and prices adorning a retailer’s showroom floor, what’s the right one for you? Here’s a quick guide.

  1. Gas: For people who want convenience. Just like your kitchen stove, it can be ready to cook in 10 minutes, and it’s easy to regulate cooking temps.
  2. Charcoal: For those who love being hands-on with the nuances of outdoor grilling. Some say charcoal provides the best flavour experience. Good for low and slow cooking AND high heat searing.
  3. Pellet: For people who want the most flavor. Wood pellet grills are among the most energy efficient and burn clean. With pellets coming in varieties such as hickory, mesquite and oak, you (and your friends and family) can enjoy a truly flavourful cooking experience.
  4. Electric: For people who love simplicity. Electric grills are designed to produce constant heat and operate without an open flame. Ideal for apartment or condo dwellers since they don’t require charcoal or propane.
  5. Kamado: For people who love cooking all styles and seasons. Kamado grills’ excellent insulation is ideal for both grilling and smoking. They can use wood and charcoal and are ideal for roasting and baking.


Once you’ve determined what is essential to you to make this grilling season a success, it’s time to get cooking! Try out Maxim Lavoie’s Sweet and Spicy, Tangy and Tasty Ribs – the perfect recipe to take your new grill for a spin!

Woodstove Industry Requests Engagement with Comox Valley Decision-Makers on Bans of Wood-Burning Appliances 

(COMOX VALLEY, BC) – Following the continuation of multiple bans in the Comox Valley on the installation of wood-burning appliances, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) is again requesting a meeting with local decision-makers in the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, and Village of Cumberland to discuss a new process for engagement between decision-makers and local industry representatives. HPBAC and the local wood-burning appliance industry are supportive of effective regulation that promotes better air quality; however, the industry wants to see meaningful engagement with all parties impacted. 

“HPBAC has worked with other municipalities, including Metro Vancouver, to develop policy in a similar situation which was informed by all stakeholders,” said Laura Litchfield, President of HPBAC. “HPBAC hopes municipalities in the Comox Valley will consider modifying the bans and allow regulation to be more results-oriented and reflective of the best interests of residents and the local industry.”

HPBAC notes that the current bans of wood-burning appliances in new homes prevent the use of wood-burning as a primary and backup heat source and results in an increase in home heating costs for residents. The bans also unnecessarily impact workers, retailers, and manufacturers. There are seven hearth appliance manufacturers in British Columbia, 3,000 direct jobs, and additional indirect jobs. Furthermore, bans inappropriately suggest the use of modern certified wood-burning appliances is inconsistent with the pursuit of air quality improvements and climate change adaptation when evidence proves this to be incorrect. 

“Residents and consumers who use wood-burning appliances have long recognized the importance of protecting Canada’s precious natural resources, improving air quality, and reversing the effects of climate change,” said Ms. Litchfield. “For this reason, the hearth industry in Canada has been hard at work making products that use less fuel to supply heat, with extremely low levels of emission, and at a fraction of the cost of other heating methods. Modern certified wood stoves are an efficient heating appliance.” 

HPBAC and its members strive to work closely with decision-makers and regulatory partners to develop progressive, evidence-based policy. Despite sustained efforts to ensure this happened in Comox Valley, regional and municipal decision-makers have not adequately considered alternative policy levers that would positively impact air quality and carbon emissions.

Chris Bowen of Pioneer Fireplace has been attempting to work with the Village of Cumberland and the City of Courtenay but met significant resistance. “The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) started the Airshed Roundtable Project to study air quality in the Comox Valley and to implement a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy, yet the bans were put in place before members of the roundtable could even bring forward recommendations,” said Mr. Bowen.

Comox Valley resident and local business owner, Jamie Payne, frustrated by a lack of willingness by decision-makers to listen, said the “bans are jeopardizing my business and investment for no legitimate reason. They are unjustified, misplaced and will not do anything to help local air quality.” 

Ms. Litchfield urges consideration and acceptance of the representations from the wood-burning appliance industry. “The fact that a report published by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) has been cited by the media is just one example of how misinformation relating to the effectiveness of modern certified wood-burning finds its way into  policy processes.” 

HPBAC is requesting a way to replace uncertified older model stoves with modern and low emitting certified appliances be adopted. Many communities in Canada and the U.S. have implemented successful woodstove changeout programs, including many in B.C. This solution would address the issue without the need for a ban on the installation of wood-burning appliances.

For more information, please visit

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC) is the national not-for-profit association representing businesses that produce, sell, or service appliances and accessories in Canada’s hearth and barbecue industries. HPBAC gives consumers an overview of the hearth, patio and barbecue industry and provides the information needed to help Canadians make the right choice for their home.

For more information, please contact:
Jeff Loder
Director of Public Affairs, HPBAC

The Beef Wellington Recipe of Champions!

The Beef Wellington Recipe of Champions!

When I cook, I always aim for maximum deliciousness and flavor. As a beef lover, one of my favourite dishes to prepare on the BBQ (and to enjoy, of course) is oh-so-comforting Beef Wellington. I like to treat my family with this dish after we’ve spent the whole day outside playing catch and running around.

Now I know tenderloin is not the most flavourful cut of beef BUT… sear it, season it well, give it a bit of love, and you’re in business. Trust me, the way this recipe combines a tender and juicy piece of meat with a mixture of vegetables and a crispy (and buttery!) puff pastry results in a Beef Wellington that’s hard to top, taste-wise. I have to restrain myself, or there won’t be any left for my wife and kids!

Believe me, this recipe is a lot easier to do than it seems. Ready? Let’s go!



  • 1 (2 lb) beef tenderloin
  • 1 package store-bought puff pastry (or make your own!)
  • 4-5 white mushrooms
  • 1 carrot
  • ¼ cup of your favourite herbs (optional)
  • Montreal spice mix, such as House of BBQ Experts’ Montreal Spice Mix and Rub, to taste
  • 3 tbsp good quality mustard
  • ½ cup of your favourite gravy or sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten


Cooking Method

  1. Season the beef tenderloin to taste with the Montreal spice mix and rub. (The more seasoning you put on, the more flavours the tenderloin will pack.????)
  2. Sear the piece of meat on the BBQ for 2 minutes on each side at a very high temperature. Remove it from the heat and let it rest for 1 hour.
  3. While you wait, place the mushrooms, carrot and herbs in a food processor, and chop everything into small pieces. Transfer the vegetables into a bowl and set them aside.
  4. Preheat the BBQ to 350°F.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle that’s large enough to envelop the beef tenderloin.
  6. Spread the mustard and chopped vegetables on the puff pastry.
  7. Once that is done, place the beef tenderloin in the center of the puff pastry, wrap the puff pastry around it, and brush the dough with beaten egg.
  8. Place the wrapped beef tenderloin into a barbecue-safe dish; place the dish onto the BBQ and let it cook in an indirect cooking zone until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145°F. After that, let it rest for a few minutes outside the BBQ.
  9. Heat up the gravy or sauce and drizzle it over the Beef Wellington.
  10. Serve and enjoy the explosion of flavors it creates in your mouth!


Have fun BBQing everyone!

Editor’s note: We made this Beef Wellington ourselves and itwas just as easy and fun to make – and as delicious to eat – as Max promises! Here are pics of the result.

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!