Summertime Grilling

There is absolutely nothing I look forward to more in the summer than grilling. I am a self-professed BBQ addict, known to be out there through rain, sun, and even snow. Over the years I’ve accumulated some must have’s and make’s for grilling season, and I’d love to share them with you.

1First up is a clean grill. There is absolutely nothing worse than lifting up a lid and seeing all the food still stuck on there from the last time you cooked. I’ve cycled through just about every kind of grill brush and stone out there, but my hands down favorite is this style:


It does a really good job of getting in between all of the grates, and deep into the corners of the BBQ. A brush isn’t something that you keep season after season though, I usually go through at least two a year. As soon as the stainless steel bristles start looking a little rough (really bent, gunky, or falling off), it’s time to get a new one. What happens if you’re about to cook though and you realize it’s time for a new brush? Just crumple up a good sized piece of aluminum foil and use your BBQ tongs to brush it around the grill, it’ll do just as good a job cleaning it up for you!

Speaking of BBQ tongs, I am a big lover of tools and gadgets (my poor husband, he’s such a trooper). I’m going to break down my favourites into to two lists: must haves, and love having.

BBQ Tool Must Haves:

1. Long handled tongs
2. Long handled turner
3. Long handled basting brush
4. Instant read thermometer

These tools aren’t the same ones you use in your kitchen (unless you enjoy searing the hair off of your arms). You want some that are made for the grill, with a nice long reach so that you can get to the back with the tool, and not your hand. An instant read thermometer is my best friend both in the kitchen and at the grill. Cooking on the BBQ goes a lot faster than the oven in most cases, so it’s important to keep an eye on where your food is at so you don’t accidently overcook it.

BBQ Tools I Love Having:

1. Pizza Stone
2. Rib Rack
3. Smoker Box
4. Metal Skewers
5. Cast Iron Griddle
6. Metal Basket
7. Foil Pans

2I know, a heck of a list. A pizza stone is a must for me. I pretty much exclusively grill my pizzas. I can get the stone a lot hotter in the BBQ than I can in the oven, and that slightly smoky flavour makes me feel like I’m eating a wood fired pizza. Click the picture above to check out my BBQ jerk chicken pizza with Tre Stelle Mozzarella cheese all done on the grill (you can make this with or without a stone).

3A rib rack is just a great way to cook ribs – standing them up makes for all around heat circulation, and tender juicy ribs every time. A smoker box goes hand in hand with ribs for me. All you do is add some wet wood chips, and put the box on the opposite side as your vents (or at the front if you can when the grill vents are at the back). You want the smoke to be pulled back over your meat on its way out.

Metal skewers are such a great, versatile tool. You can do the obvious shish kabobs, but I LOVE doing tornado sausages on them: just stick a skewer through the center of a sausage, and use your knife to cut a swirl all the way around the sausage (basically turning it into a slinky). The finished sausage has lots of amazing crispy bits, and really pulls in your toppings for every bite. Or do dessert; make a grilled strawberry shortcake, alternating strawberries and pound cake, then top with whipped cream once they come off the BBQ.

4If you have the room, adding a cast iron griddle on one side of you grill can be a great way to cook up some amazing toppings at the same time. Making burgers? Why not fry up some onions and jalapenos on the griddle at the same time. Really want to be a show off? Crack an egg on there at the last second to add to your burger. AMAZING!

Metal baskets and foil pans are a great way to grill sides, like veggies and potatoes. When I’m BBQ’ing, the last thing I want to do is run back and forth, inside and out, to cook the whole meal. I love grilling my sides as well.

Alright, we’ve got the tools out of the way, now it’s time for the fun stuff: FOOD! Nothing is more important to a BBQ than the food you’re cooking on it. Everyone knows the staples: burgers, sausages, steaks, and anything pork. I’m not going to hit you with what you already know. It’s the ingredients that you may not be thinking of for the BBQ, that to me, are absolute musts.

I love using fruit with my grilled dishes, and everyone always thinks it’s so unexpected. Making some quick pork chops? Chop up some pineapple and red onion to throw on top. Make your own BBQ sauce with peaches and bourbon to brush over ribs (add some jalapenos for a surprising kick). Be bold and experiment, and your meals will never be boring.

My hands down, number one thing you need to be grilling with though? Cheese! Hand to my heart, I have yet to find a meal that isn’t made better when Cheese is added to it. I’d love to share a few of my favourite Cheesy recipes with you:

My citrus ginger chicken with three melon salsa is one of the most flavourful pieces of chicken you’ll ever eat. It is made 1,000 times better by adding some crumbles of Tre Stelle Feta cheese on top just before serving.

These bruschetta style BBQ pork chops are great topped with some Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese. I love switching it up sometimes though, and swap out that Mozzarella for Arla Smoked Havarti.


These Cajun stuffed BBQ chicken breasts are bursting with flavour (literally!). That melty, gooey, Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese is exactly what this chicken needed to make it anything but a typical BBQ’d breast. Don’t be shy with Cheeses either. I love a bacon wrapped pork tenderloin that’s stuffed with Ricotta and sautéed onion. Throw it on the rotisserie, and you have a delicious, hands-free dinner.

Have fun with your food! Experimenting with different flavours and styles is what makes cooking fun. See you at the grill!

12 Healthy, No-Cook, Family-Friendly Snack Ideas

TreStelle_HealthySnacks_01The idea of snacking can be divisive. Some think you should ban it to avoid overeating, and others consider it essential to keeping your metabolism running consistently throughout the day. If you have kids, you probably consider snacks crucial to a smooth-running day! I personally need snacks to keep my energy levels up between meals, and my toddler son needs them to fuel up between enthusiastic playing, running, and climbing sessions. To avoid falling for salty, fatty snacks (which are so easy to reach for), I try to always have fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese in the fridge so I can assemble healthy bites as quickly as possible. The snacks I like to make are not only beautiful to look at, attracting the curiosity and interest of little ones, but also nutritious, effectively appeasing hunger pangs without leading to overindulgence.

The following healthy snack ideas don’t require any cooking, making them especially handy for hot summer days, and they won’t keep you in the kitchen for too long. Some chopping is involved, but then it’s just a matter of assembling the bites, which the kids will love helping you do. Each bite features a main fruit or vegetable, a Cheese, a protein, and some flavorings. If you want to take a shortcut, you can skip the flavorings altogether, but they add a delightful complexity and a certain sophistication to the snacks. Each snack idea is great for calming appetites on a busy weeknight while you prepare dinner, but you can also make several of the bites to create gorgeous spreads for brunch, cocktail parties, or special events, such as baby showers. In short, they’re versatile, healthy bites you’ll want to serve all summer long.


  1. Blueberries + Ricotta + Almonds + Honey
    Halve mini-pitas. Spoon some Ricotta over each piece, top with blueberries and almonds, and drizzle with honey. As an alternative, you could also fill the mini-pitas with the ingredients instead.
  2. Apple + Ricotta + Chicken + Walnuts
    Slice an apple thinly. Core the pieces that need it. Spoon some Ricotta over each slice, then add chopped roasted chicken. Top with a walnut half.
  3. Spinach + Ricotta + Bacon + Pumpkin Seeds
    Transfer some Ricotta in a small bowl. Chop a handful of baby spinach very finely, then mix it in. Spoon the mixture into edible crispy shells or over crackers, then add a piece of cooked bacon and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds.
  4. Avocado + Chickpeas + Feta + Sunflower Seeds
    Smash the avocado with a fork and squeeze in some lemon juice so it doesn’t brown. Spread over slices of toasted baguette, then top with cooked chickpeas (make sure to rinse canned chickpeas thoroughly before using). Sprinkle with crumbled Feta and sunflower seeds.
  5. Cucumber + Feta + Walnuts + Basil
    Slice a cucumber into thick rounds. Top with cubes of Feta cheese. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and fresh basil.
  6. Cherry Tomatoes + Feta + Corn + Coriander
    Sprinkle crumbled Feta on tortilla chips. Top with a halved cherry tomato. Add a spoonful of cooked corn kernels over each tortilla chip, then finish with fresh coriander leaves.
  7. Dates + Mascarpone + Prosciutto + Lemon Zest
    Cut open each date to remove the pit. Fill each date with Mascarpone Cheese. Sprinkle with finely grated lemon zest, then wrap each date in prosciutto.
  8. Strawberries + Mascarpone + Maple Syrup + Thyme
    Dice the strawberries. Spread some Mascarpone Cheese over salted crackers. Top with diced strawberries. Drizzle with maple syrup and finish with fresh thyme leaves.
  9. Mushrooms + Mascarpone + Pesto + Toasted Panko
    Remove the mushroom stems and place the caps upside down on a serving plate. In a small bowl, mix some Mascarpone with a spoonful or two of pesto. Fill each mushroom cap with the Mascarpone-pesto mixture, then sprinkle with toasted panko crumbs.
  10. Melon + Bocconcini + Ham + Mint
    Cut the melon into cubes (any melon variety will do). Top each cube with a strip of smoked ham, then add a leaf of fresh mint. Finish with a Bocconcini pearl and secure with a toothpick to serve.
  11. Zucchini + Bocconcini + Hazelnuts + Lemon Zest
    Cut the zucchini into thick rounds and grill lightly, if desired. Let cool, then top each round with a halved Bocconcini. Finish with chopped hazelnuts and finely grated lemon zest.
  12. Figs + Bocconcini + Pistachio + Olive Oil
    Halve fresh or dried figs, then use your finger to lightly press into the center of each fig, so to create a shallow indentation. Grind the pistachios, then roll Bocconcini pearls into the nuts. Press one pearl into each fig, then sprinkle with more ground pistachios. Finish with a drizzle of aromatic extra-virgin olive oil.

Grilling for Dad

Nothing brings family and friends together better than a backyard BBQ! This Father’s Day let Dad show off his culinary skills on the grill with these helpful “Tips and Tricks”.

Father's Day Grilling-3821Let’s celebrate Dad on Father’s Day by setting him up for the most successful BBQ season ever. A few tips and tricks will have Dad serving up some amazing grilled delights, stress free and having fun all summer long.

To start Dad off in becoming King of the Grill he needs the right tools. Men love their tools and can never have too many. There are a ton of BBQ specialty items out there but a few that I consider “must haves”.

Essential Grilling Tools

Meat Thermometer

A good digital meat thermometer ensures no more of those horrific moments where everyone has sat down to eat and Dad brings in the chicken fresh off the BBQ only to see red juices oozing out when it is sliced into. A meat thermometer takes the guessing game out of knowing when things are done and mastering the perfect grilled steak. No more slicing into meat to check and let all those moisture enhancing juices drip to the bottom of the BBQ.


Get a few sizes with good grip to suit the various BBQ foods. You don’t want to be poking holes with forks into those juicy meats as they are grilling.


A heavy duty, long handled, stainless steel spatula is a must have for turning things like burgers and fish.

Grill Brush

A sturdy grill brush with stainless steel or brass bristles makes easy work of cleaning the grill.

Grill Gloves or Mitts

Protect your hands from a grill’s searing heat with a pair that is heavy duty, heat resistant and fire-retardant. Kitchen mitts will not suffice when dealing with a hot grill.

Basting Brush

A thick silicone basting brush will hold onto sauce better than other brushes. They are also easier to clean making them much more sanitary.

Water Spray Bottle

When cooking you want to avoid flames for they only burn food. Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy to dampen down any fire.

Some additional items that are great to have on hand are bamboo or steel skewers, grill pans or baskets, an apron and cast iron cookware.

Time management is key to stress-free grilling

Time management is key to successful, stress-free grilling and outdoor entertaining. Here is a helpful timetable for summertime grilling:

Day before:

Ensure you have plenty of coals or if using propane, the tank is full. Have you ever started grilling and ran out of propane before the meat is done? Keep a spare tank on hand!


Rub or marinate large cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulders. Also marinate chicken, whole fish, or less than best quality of steak, pork, and lamb.

Prepare side dishes that aren’t time sensitive like baked beans or coleslaw.

Early afternoon:

Skewer kebab ingredients, prep vegetables and side dishes. Prepare salad (have dressing ready, but don’t toss it until right before serving.

Set up bar, prepare drinks like lemonade, ice down beer or soft drinks.

Set up tables, plates, glasses, and cutlery.

Have grilling utensils clean and ready to go.

One Hour before:

If using a charcoal grill, light it 20 to 30 minutes before you plan to start grilling. If using a gas grill, preheat 10 to 15 minutes before grilling.

Just before:

Father's Day BBQ-3877Clean the hot grill grate with a wire brush and oil the grate with oil-soaked paper towel or rag. The grate is the part of the grill that comes in direct contact with the food, so it should be clean.

Be safe make sure your grill is away from the house or other buildings, plants and shrubbery. Grill in an area with good ventilation but is sheltered from the wind.

Father’s Day BBQ/Grilling Gift Ideas:

A collection of sauces, spices, rubs and marinades make a great Father’s Day gift.

Or make something for him like a grilling chart for easy reference for grilling times and temperatures. One side with grilling temperatures, the other grilling guide for the perfect steak.

Some other great gift ideas: make Dad his own personal cookbook of family favourite barbeque and grilling recipes, side dishes, drinks and desserts.

Mention barbecue and you’ve got the family drooling with thoughts of sizzling steaks, hamburgers, and sausages; summer food at its charbroiled best!

Summertime is such a wonderful time of year when family and friends gather to enjoy the great outdoors and sensational BBQ meals. A few tips and tricks will help Dad be everyone’s favourite Master of the Grill!

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