Tailgate Gadgets - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Tailgate Gadgets

Tailgate Gadgets

Tailgating gadgets have come a long way from the just a cooler and the old mini charcoal grill.  Tailgaters can now enjoy the comforts of home right from the parking lot.

New Items:

  • Portable Satellite dish with wide flat screen TV
  • Ipod music speakers or satellite radio receivers
  • High-end portable gas grills that pop-up or fold away
  • Easy to assemble pop-up tents and covers
  • Coolers and heaters that work from cars utility outlets
  • Wireless food thermometers that monitor the grill so you don't have to

Parking lot games

Half the fun is the parking lot games that go beyond the traditional throwing the ball.  New games include:

  • Corn Toss:  Bean bags that are thrown through targeted holes.
  • Texas Hold-up Poker games have made their way into the parking lots
  • Many venues now offer playground areas for children and concert areas for adults
  • Putting tournaments on portable Astro-turf greens


Grilling Tips


Don't get in a hurry to turn

(Once you put something on the grill, leave it alone until it's time to turn it.  If you flip, squish, or move the meat too much, you'll push out the juices, making it dry.  

Keep a lid on it

Every time you peak at the food while cooking, you lose heat and smoke which gives your food that grilling flavor

Glaze or Sauce a little at a time

You want to layer your glazes and sauces.  That creates layers of flavor and not just a thick crust that usually burns.

Grilling Accessories

  • Thermometer (Original or high tech)
  • Tongs (Spend a little more and get a good set of tongs)
  • Basting Brush (Silicone bristles can take the heat and dishwasher safe)
  • Mister bottle

Touch Test (Area between thumb and index finger)
         Hand open: Rare

Open circle with thumb touching index finger: Medium

Closed fist: Well

Food Tips

  • Set out easy to serve and grab items that don't need forks or spoons: chilled shrimp, wings, skewered beef or chicken, pizza slices, chips, veggies and big sandwiches. 
    Choose salads and dips that withstand being set out for a period of time.  There are many bean salads and dips without mayonnaise that fit this bill.
  • Set-up food stations where your tailgate guests can serve themselves.
    • Here are several ideas:
    • Make a basic chili recipe and then let your tailgate partiers customize by setting out bowls of, beans, onions, cheeses, hot peppers, spaghetti (yes some people put this in their chili), assortment of hot sauces, sausage, turkey cubes and cooked hamburger meat.  Again, everyone can customize to how they like it and the host can enjoy the game and not worry about serving everyone.
    •  Build-yourself fajitas.  Set out grilled chicken and beef strips and let the party goers add what they like from an assortment of chopped lettuce, cheeses, bell peppers, hot peppers, onions.  You can also offer different wrappers from plain, flour, whole wheat or even low carb
  • Look for containers that allow ice underneath for perishable food items.

Food Safety Tips

  • Single serving or pre-packaged portions to minimize the number of people who come in contact with the food. Use baggies or plastic wrap to store the food.
  • Processed foods such as lunch meats and hotdogs spoil quickly, so use caution with them.
  • Watch the temperature of casseroles, especially those that contain egg, milk products, or meat in them because they tend to spoil quickly.
  • Buy reasonable quantities.
  • Cooking. Ground meat is done when it is brown or gray inside. Poultry is ready when the juices run clear, and fully cooked fish flakes with a fork. Sausages take patience, so cook them at least 25 minutes or so.

Food Preparation

Be prepared. These tips will help you prepare food and equipment for tailgating.

  • The night before the game, try to get as much work done as possible. Cut up vegetables and marinate meat; pack the car with tables, chairs, soap, water, trash bags and towels.
  • Sandwiches. Make and freeze these ahead of time using course-textured bread that doesn't get soggy when thawed. Pack the mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc. separately to add at mealtime.
  • Perishable foods. Lunch meats, cooked beef or chicken, tuna, potato, egg, and pasta salads all need to be packed in a cooler with several inches of ice. Make sure you store these items in watertight containers to prevent those oh-so-nasty leaks.
  • Raw meat. Store these and the marinades in a separate cooler. Double pack meat in plastic bags or put them into a plastic container to prevent juices from leaking out. Store meat right next to the ice.
  • Containers. Use shallow containers (two inches or less is perfect) with tight lids to pack prepared foods because with deep containers, the center doesn't get as cold.
  • Drinks. Store drinks in a separate cooler away from food.
  • Coolers. Keep coolers out of direct sun and covered. Keep the lid closed as much as possible to slow the melting of the ice.
  • Packing. Pack foods in reverse order so that the last ones in are used first.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Bring a dispenser of wipes.


Food to Serve:

When planning your meal, keep in mind what utensils you'll need. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Keep the time and location of the game in mind. For example, breakfast burritos would be great for an early game; sandwiches for an afternoon game and burgers for an evening game.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, trail mix, dried foods, cookies, crackers, those that are high in sugar, and canned products (meat spreads, for example) are great for tailgating because they don't need refrigeration.
  • Sausages with fried onions and peppers are a favorite 
  • Kabobs are great because you can prepare them the night before and on game day, you just pop them on the grill.
  • If you really want to save time, you can always pick up fried chicken, barbecue, or deli sandwiches.

Handling Leftovers:

When the party is over, you may have leftovers. The following tips are great for handling leftovers.

  • Put any leftovers in coolers as soon as you can because food that sits out for more than two hours isn't safe to eat. If the temperature is above 90º, food should be put away after one hour.
  • There should be ice left in the cooler to store the perishable items, if not, throw the food out.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Last and certainly not least, drink responsibly.


Beverage Tips


  • Be sure to have plenty of bottled water and alcohol free drinks available
  • Make a signature tailgate punch that is easy to serve (You can use food coloring to make a team color specific punch)
  • Make the same tailgate punch in an alcohol free version
  • Set-up a bloody Mary station with the option of leaving the vodka out but can still build a great drink (see recipes below). 
  • Set-up a Mimosa station and offer Lemon-Lime soda as an alternative to the Korbel Champagne (see recipes below). 
  • You can put most beverages in the freezer (use safe containers) then take out prior to going to the game and they will arrive cold and frosty




Tailgate Recipes:


Classic Tailgate Wings
(I like these as you don't have to fry them yet they have a crunchy consistency)

2 tablespoons paprika

3 tablespoons cayenne

5 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper

6 tablespoon garlic powder

3 tablespoon onion powder

6 tablespoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder

50 chicken wings (with tips removed and split at center joint)

  • Combine all dry ingredients in medium bowl. Rinse chicken thoroughly. Place 1/3 of chicken in a large bowl and spread dry mixture liberally over chicken and mix with hands until chicken is completely coated. Repeat same process with the next 2/3 of chicken. Make sure you do 1/3 at a time and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Place chicken on middle rack of grill on low heat and cook until crispy, turning as needed, combine with sauce for dipping at your preference.
  • When serving at your tailgate, set out assorted hot sauces from mild to extra hot.  Blue Cheese dressing works as a nice compliment as well


Mini-Grilled Pizza

8 Servings

16 oz Biscuit Dough, in the refrigerator section 

Pizza sauce

Toppings of your choice (mushroom, green pepper, pepperoni, etc.)

Mozzarella cheese

  • Flatten biscuit dough with a roller or your hands to make 8 mini-pizzas.  Place on medium heat grill for 3 minutes.  Flip the pizza over and add sauce, topping and cheese.  Cook for 10 - 15 minutes until cheese is melted.
  • Have each person create their own pizza customized to their own taste and topping preference.




Hershey bars

Graham crackers

Green sticks or Coat Hangers

  • Break 1 large graham cracker and in half. Cover 1/2 of the graham cracker with Hershey bar. Put a marshmallow (or 2) on the stick and hold it over the fire until roasted. Some people like them lightly golden, others like to catch them on fire and then blow the fire out - have each person cook their to their liking.  When the marshmallows are roasted, place on top of the Hershey bar, and put the other graham cracker on top. Enjoy!




2 cans chickpeas

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

6 cloves garlic

3/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup Tahini

  • Put the beans in a food processor and purée, then add the rest of the ingredients, except the lemon. Add the lemon gradually until you get the right texture and taste. Store in airtight container and keep cool.  Serve with pita chips or vegetables.


Ballgame Squares

20 caramels (from 14-ounce bag), unwrapped

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons stick butter or margarine

5 cups unsalted popped corn (purchased or yield from about 3 tablespoons kernels)

2/3 cup mixed salted nuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dark raisins

  • Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil letting ends extend above pan on 2 sides. Generously butter foil. In a heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat, stir caramels, corn syrup, and butter until caramels melt and mixture is smooth. Before removing from heat, stir in popcorn, nuts and raisins until well coated. Scrape into prepared pan, cover with waxed paper and press mixture into an even layer. Let stand until firm, at least 30 minutes. Lift foil by ends and remove from pan. Invert mixture on a cutting board and remove foil. Cut in squares. Store loosely covered at room temperature up to one week.


Tailgate Cheese Dip

1 lb. pkg. Jack cheese

2 peeled tomatoes, diced fine

6 to 8 black olives, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c. chopped green chilies

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

  • Grate cheese and mix with diced tomatoes, chopped chilies, black olives and spices. Chill for 1 hour and serve with tortilla chips.

Tailgate Sandwiches

Rye bread slices

Cream cheese with chives (whipped)

Boiled ham slices


  • For each sandwich spread one slice bread with cream cheese. Top with slice of ham and lettuce. Spread other slice of bread with cream cheese. Put on top.

Gooey Butter Cake

1 box yellow cake mix

1 egg

1 stick butter or margarine


1 box confectioners sugar

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

  • Combine cake mix, egg and margarine. Pat into 9 x 13-inch pan.  Combine topping ingredients and pour over cake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool and store in airtight container.  Cut into squares, serve warm or at room temperature.




1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp. oregano

Salt and pepper

1/2 lb. pepperoni, sliced thin

1/4 lb. Provolone cheese, sliced thin

1/4 lb. Mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

1/2 lb. ham, sliced thin

  • Mix oregano, salt and pepper with beaten egg. Roll bread dough to 18 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush with 1/2 of the egg mixture. Cover the dough with layers of pepperoni, cheeses and ham, then roll up as a jelly roll. Seal all edges firmly and brush with remaining egg mixture. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. (It will bake to about 2 1/2 times its original size.) While warm, wrap in foil and place in picnic cooler to maintain warmth for tailgate party.

Ham Wraps

1 pound thinly sliced ham (Virginia-baked or maple-flavored)

8 ounces cream cheese

6 dill pickle spears

4 ounces sour cream

1/4 cup minced chives

1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Blend together all ingredients except ham and pickles. Spread mix on ham slices, and place pickle spear in center and roll up, securing with toothpicks. Cut in thirds for easier serving. Chill before serving. This makes 6 or so servings.



Bean Dip

1 large can of Refried beans

1 can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 ripe avocado

2 cloves garlic

8 ounces sour cream

  • Your favorite taco fixings (shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced onions, chopped black olives, and shredded Monterey Jack and Colby Cheese -- also really good with Pepper Jack cheese if you like spice)
  • Mix black beans with refried beans, add dry seasonings, and mix well. Spread in a casserole dish. Mash avocado and garlic cloves in a bowl with a fork, add sour cream and mix well (lumpy is good), spread on top of bean mixture. Top with taco fixings. Mash down on the cheese to set the dip. This is best served with tortilla chips, or baked pita triangles.


Awesome Baked Beans

3 cans navy or great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 bottle of chili sauce

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup black strap molasses

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 dash apple cider vinegar

3 good shakes cayenne pepper sauce

Thick sliced country style bacon

  • Mix everything but the bacon into a baking dish. Top with bacon. Bake at 350º until bacon is nice and done (about 30 minutes). Great recipe to make in the morning before leaving, and then put on the grill to reheat at the game.



Margaritaville Chicken

Make a margarita:

Shot of Pepe Lopez or Don Eduardo tequila

Shot of triple sec

Two shots of lime juice

  • Place boneless chicken breasts in a ziplock bag, and pour your drink into the bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Take out chicken, and sprinkle salt over each piece. Grill until done. This is great served cut in strips and served rolled up in flour tortillas topped with Bean Dip.



Bean Salsa

1 can black beans rinsed and drained

1 can white corn rinsed and drained

1 onion finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely chopped

1 can diced tomatoes (or two ripe peeled tomatoes diced) or you can use a can of Rotelle® tomatoes diced fine, and leave out the pepper

1 splash of the juice from the jalapenos or a splash of vinegar if you're wimpy

Mix everything together, and refrigerate over night.  Serve with your favorite tortilla or corn chip.



Cold Spaghetti Salad

1 lb (16oz.) Box of Spaghetti No.8

1 Bottle of McCormicks Salad Supreme Seasoning

1 Red  Pepper, diced

1 or 2 Medium size Tomatoes, diced

1 Bottle of Italian dressing (your choice)

  • Cook spaghetti as directed. Drain. Run cold water over the spaghetti to cool. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well. Cover and chill overnight.
  • Variation: Use a jar of Roasted Red Peppers in place of the fresh Red Pepper.
  • Very easy to make and it's very good at room temperature. Plus there is no need to worry about it "spoiling" in the heat.


1 lb. Mild pork sausage

1 lb. Lean ground beef

½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup milk

½ cup finely diced Vidalia onion

½ teaspoon each - salt and pepper

  • Combine all ingredients and shape into 1 ½ inch balls. Place on a lightly greased jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.


½ cup apple jelly

¼ cup spicy brown mustard

¼ cup Bourbon (Woodford Reserve or Old Forrester)

1 tsp each- Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce

  • Combine sauce ingredients in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Cook for one minute, then add meatballs and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring to make sure they all get coated.
  • Tip:  The best way to store these is in a disposable foil pan (about $1-2 dollars at the grocery store).  You can put them in the fridge overnight, then throw the foil right on the grill gameday.  They reheat in about 5 or 10 minutes. Serve with pretzel sticks (tastier than toothpicks, and no splinters!).



1/4 lb ground beef

10-12 popper size jalepenos

Small onion

1 lb bacon

12oz - 1lb Monterey Jack w/jalapeños cheese

  • Chop onion and brown in small amount of oil. Add hamburger and brown and drain. Grate cheese and mix with hamburger. Cut off top of jalapeños and core out the seeds. Slit down to 1/4 inch from bottom. Stuff with hamburger mixture. Wrap slice of bacon around popper. Stick with toothpick if necessary. Grill over coals until done.



Salmon on a cedar plank

(Cooking on cedar planks goes back centuries when Native Americans roasted fish on wood to minimize loss of juices  It also serve as your serving platter if you wish)

Soak your planks in water from 40 minutes to 4 hours

Place on grill for about 3 minutes a side to begin smoking

Rub salmon with your favorite salmon rub or make your own (recipe on web)

Put salmon (skin side down) and cook with lid on for about 20 minutes (135°) Serve salmon right off of the plank.  Watch that planks don't catch fire, if they do just mist with water

NOTE:  The planks can be used several times and you can use many types of fish including Sword, Monk and Trout

Grilled Fruit Kabobs

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least an hour

Cut in half a combination of any or all: plums, apricots or peaches.  Place any three fruit halves on a skewer and sprinkle cut side with sugar.  Let stand for 5 minutes then place directly on medium high grill grates (cut side down) for 5 minutes.  Place on plate and drizzle with caramel or chocolate syrup 

Crunch Station


For those close games, sometimes the best way to work out aggression is to crunch on something. 

Your crunch station can include a wide variety of prepared items that can easily be refreshed:


Assorted veggies

Pita Chips

Corn Chips (add color by adding blue and red corn chips along with the plain)

Bagel chips

Veggie chips

Side Dips for your Crunch Station

Low fat yogurt


Cheese and pepper dip

Prepared artichoke dip


White Bean dip





1 small can lemonade (6 oz.)
1 large can orange juice (12 oz.)
One 32 ounce bottle of cranberry juice
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup Old Forrester or Woodford Reserve bourbon
1/2 cup Finladia Vodka
Mix all ingredients and freeze at least 24 hours in advance. By the time you arrive at the game, the drink should be slushy.  Top with Sprite or for drier taste use Club Soda. Makes 15-20 glasses.


2 Cups Finlandia Vodka

4 Cups Cranberry Juice

1 1/2 Cups Lime Juice

2 Cups Water

3 Tablespoons Sugar

Combine all ingredients in cooler with spout, serve over ice.  Serves 20


2 Bottles Korbel Champagne

Juice of ½ Lime

2 Tablespoons Superfine Sugar

Dash of Angostura Bitters

1 Pint Raspberries

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl or cooler with spout, add ice to chill.  Serves 12.

Easy Margaritas

(Makes 38 servings)

In a glass pitcher mix:

1 bottle of 1.75 Liter of Pepe Lopez Gold Tequila

2 12 oz. Cans Frozen Lemonade

1 12 oz. Can Frozen Limeade

1 Gallon of fresh water

Can Add 10 oz. of either Orange Juice, Tuaca Italian Liquor or Triple Sec

Serve with slices of oranges, limes and lemons

Jack Daniel's Lynchburg Lemonade
1 Part Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
1 Part Triple Sec
1 Part Sour Mix
4 Parts lemon-lime soda

Virgin Cranberry Juice Cocktail

Makes about 8 drinks
1 cup water
2/3-cup sugar
3 cups cranberry juice
1 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
lime slices for garnish

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook over moderate heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves, then allow to cool.
  3. Fill a pitcher with sugar syrup, cranberry juice and lime juice and chill.
  4. Pour into ice-filled Collins glasses about 3/4 full.
  5. Add seltzer and garnish with a lime slice

Pitchers of Lemonade and Iced Teas

  • Set out an assortment of flavored syrups so your tailgate guests can make their own Lemonade and Ice tea concoction.  Flavor examples include peach, blackberry and raspberry
  • Can also mix into your lemonade any of the following:  Chambord Raspberry liqueur, Woodford Reserve Bourbon or Finlandia Vodka

Bloody Mary station

Place out your favorite bloody Mary mix and Finlandia Vodka.  Let your guests build their own with all of the trimmings and garnishes. (Again, for alcohol free, your guests can still build a great drink and leave out the Finlandia) 

Garnishes and sides could include:


Steak Sauce

Finely grated parmesan or blue cheese

Celery salt and Celery stalk

Pickled mushrooms, string beans, asparagus

Pickled green tomato

Olives stuffed with garlic or blue cheese


Hot sauce, Jalapeño pepper

Pepper flakes

Lemon wedge

Bubble Station

Put out bottles of Korbel California Champagne and Sprite.  Let your guests build a great bubbly drink with either the Korbel or Sprite by adding, Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Pomegranate Juice and any other of your favorite juice mixers.




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