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Tailgating with Johnsonville

Posted by Dave On October - 22 - 2014

Johnsonville Logo Small
If you have been reading this tailgating blog for any length of time, you know that we we here at Tailgating Ideas love Johnsonville Sausages. Bonus points to you as a reader if you recognize that Brandon is usually the one to blog about Johnsonville and tailgating. We thought we would mix it up a bit and I would pinch hit for Brandon and do a review of tailgating with Johnsonville.

The beauty of the three meal tailgate, you know, breakfast, lunch and dinner all in the parking lot, is rare and magical. Much like a beautiful unicorn gently drinking from a meadow stream, the three meal tailgate is one to behold and cherish but is also elusive. With that in mind, Johnsonville has you covered no matter if you tailgate for just a few hours or all day.

Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast SausageStarting off with the most important meal of the day, we brought two kinds of breakfast sausage from Johnsonville to the parking lot. We picked up some Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausages and the Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausages. The Johnsonville Fully Cooked Sausages are just that, fully cooked. You could eat them right out of the package if you wanted to. We chose to warm them up on the grill a little bit before serving.

The directions on the package indicate that you can warm them up in the microwave, four at a time for about 30 seconds, and they will be perfectly warmed up and taste just like you took them out of the pan or off the grill. We couldn’t help ourselves and tried a few Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausages at home in the microwave before taking them out to the parking lot. Warming them in the microwave was super convenient and they tasted fantastic. For those tailgaters that have an RV, I would highly suggest grabbing a few packages of the fully cooked versions for your next tailgate that includes a morning meal.

Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausage

We then moved onto the Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausages. These we placed directly on the grill and cooked them as if they were smaller and thinner hot dogs. Most people like to fry breakfast sausages in a pan, but when out tailgating, your grill will suffice just fine. Just make sure to grill the sausages lengthwise going across the grill grates and you won’t lose any to a firey death below the grill grates.

These sausages once grilled to perfection were also excellent. Tasted just like the sausages you remember from growing up and the flavor was outstanding. Comfort food at its finest right there in a parking lot. We coupled our breakfast sausages with some scrambled eggs prepared on the Sizzle-Q right on the grill and we were having breakfast while tailgating before we even set up the TV to catch the early NFL games.

Unfortunately, the game we attended was an afternoon kick off so we didn’t get to have a three meal tailgate. A two meal tailgate will have to do as a suitable replacement. The lunch menu was more Johnsonville. This time it was the Johnsonville Bacon and Cheddar Grillers.

JOHNSONVILLE SAUSAGE, LLC CHEDDAR CHEESE AND BACON

If you are unfamiliar with Johnsonville Grillers, I would highly encourage you to read Brandon’s review of the Bacon and Cheddar Grillers and the Mushroom and Swiss Grillers. If you skip those previous reviews, basically Johnsonville Grillers are Johnsonville’s famous brats recipe in the shape of a burger. And with the Grillers, they not only fit nicely on a hamburger bun, but they include additional flavors that would normally be considered a topping.

We went with the bacon and cheddar grillers because, come on, how can you go wrong with either bacon or cheddar? Combine the two into that famous Johnsonville taste, and you have a tailgating goldmine.

The Grillers were, as you might expect, excellent in all ways. Blame it on my German heritage and upbringing, but whenever I have a brat, it needs to be accompanied by either some brown mustard and/or sauerkraut. Or both. At this past tailgate, I went with both.

Sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard can sometimes overpower the flavor of the meat so you need to understand the right portion in order to not let one flavor dominate all the others. We built the perfect Griller and with the very first bite, we could taste the cheddar and bacon coming through. Although coming up with bacon and cheddar to infuse into a burger patty filled with bratwurst borders on genius, we are thankful that someone at Johnsonville came up with it.

All in all, the Johnsonville tailgate was a huge success. The only detractor was that we didn’t have enough time before kick off to enjoy the Johnsonvilles all day and for three meals. After tailgating all day with this grub, we are going to declare the Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausages, the Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausages and the Johnsonville Bacon and Cheddar Grillers, all “Tailgate Approved”.

To learn more about Johnsonville products, you can visit their website at www.johnsonville.com.  They also have a pretty active social media presence on Twitter @JvilleGrilling and on Facebook.

Knob Creek Whiskey Recipes/Review

Posted by Brandon On October - 18 - 2014

Bourbon. For fans of this particular spirit just seeing the word probably already has you thinking about that aroma. It’s my favorite distilled product because whatever it ends up in just seems better. Pecan pie is good on its own. Throw some bourbon into it and it gets even better. Grilled lemonade is pretty great all by itself. Throw some bourbon in and it becomes your new favorite cocktail. Pretty awesome stuff. Bourbon. For fans of this particular spirit just seeing the word probably already has you thinking about that aroma. It’s my favorite distilled product because whatever it ends up in just seems better. Pecan pie is good on its own. Throw some bourbon into it and it gets even better. Grilled lemonade is pretty great all by itself. Throw some bourbon in and it becomes your new favorite cocktail. Pretty awesome stuff.

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(Disclaimer: We did receive sample bottles of Knob Creek Bourbon and Rye Whiskey. The fact these samples were provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)symonburger

Recently I was contacted about Knob Creek whiskey and some recipes they had developed in conjunction with Chef Michael Symon. They offered up some samples to test a few out and I was happy to give them a whirl. All of the recipes seemed quite appealing, what else would you expect from a big name chef, so I decided to make life a little easier on myself and try just two to start with.  I felt like they, and the whiskey, would give me enough info that I could make a call on all of them. First I tried the Burger With Knob Creek® Caramelized Onions, Gruyere & Horseradish. The video they made for this recipe is here; I really had doubts that the onions would pick up any of that bourbon flavor but much like the things I mentioned above, they only got better. They were super simple to make and would be easy to incorporate into a tailgate party. If burgers frequently find their way onto your menus give these a chance.

I also took the opportunity to try the Bratwurst & Kielbasa in a Knob Creek Rye Jalapeño Beer Broth recipe. Rye whiskey is a spicier so it is really at home with strong flavors like jalapeno and red onion. You would not believe the smell that this recipe puts out. The brats that came out of it were super juicy, a great reason to use a bath/broth, and picked up a little of that flavor. The only thing I thought could be better on the recipe was the measurements, they don’t match what Chef Symon does in the video(he used a whole bottle of beer), and even more specifically the addition of the water to bring the total volume of the liquid up.  For what it’s worth, and I’m going rogue on this one, if you try this recipe I think grilling the sausage before hand might give you a little nicer end product.   It’s a technique that I’ve learned from my work with Johnsonville recipes.  I don’t have real scientific evidence to back it up, but I theorize that the sausage develops very small cracks in the casing when cooking and those cracks would allow some of that super tasty broth liquid inside the sausage while it soaks.

symonbratsDue to time and stomach, I was just plain stuffed, constraints I did not try the other recipes sent to me, but they sound just as good or better and every bit as applicable in the parking lot. They were the Grilled Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey Pork Meatballs on Skewers, Grilled Ribeye with Knob Creek® Bourbon BBQ Sauce, and the Grilled Korean and Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey BBQ-­‐Style Wings.   For space constraints I’ve decided not to pack all the recipes in long form onto this post.  You can get all the info from the end of the videos and many of the recipes, along with a lot more, are also listed on Knob Creek’s site.

Of course it wouldn’t be much of a review without tasting the whiskey by itself, neat. Now I’m really not the sort of guy who can sit there and tell you that there are notes of this and hints of that. What I can tell you is what I like, and I liked these whiskeys. They were exactly what I expected, and in a lot of ways that’s a very solid compliment. If I were to drop money on a bottle labeled bourbon or rye, and it tasted like something else I wouldn’t be too happy.

Normally a review would end here with my assessment on if a particular product has a place at your next tailgate. I’m deeming Knob Creek Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys “Tailgate Approved.”  Luckily I do have one last surprise for you all. Along with the review opportunity I was also able to bounce some questions of Chef Michael Symon himself. Yes that same Michael Symon you’ve seen on “The Chew”, “Iron Chef America”, and all over the airwaves.  However the interview pushed the length of the post way over what we like to do so it will be released soon in a separate post.  I think Chef Symon gave us a few nice little tidbits that you can probably apply to your next tailgate. Stay tuned for that.

For more information and to see other recipes you can visit Knob Creek directly at www.knobcreek.com.

Feed the Party

Posted by Dave On October - 14 - 2014

Feed the Party Featured
You know you want to have some good eats while out tailgating but the hassle of making up the menu can be too much sometimes. Sometimes you would rather have someone else come up with the tailgate party menu and have all the grub delivered right to your door.

We recently discovered a new website out there called feedtheparty.com that will not only make up your tailgate party menu for you but will deliver it right to your door. In addition to that convenience, Feed the Party takes a portion of their proceeds and donates it to a local food bank. Take a look at this video where Feed the Party was showcased on ABC’s World News Now.


Jump to the 3:15 mark to see the section about Feed the Party

You get the gist from the video this is a service that will deliver the choicest meats, rubs, spices and buns directly to you. The best is that you don’t need to be hosting a large tailgate to use Feed the Party. They have packages to accommodate even an intimate tailgate for two. Check out some of their packages ranging from small to large.

Feed the Party Package
Feed the Party Package
Feed the Party Package
Feed the Party Package
Feed the Party Package

Upon learning about Feed the Party we requested a sample to see for ourselves if the quality of the food sent is really top notch and worthy of appearing at our tailgate. We were sent the “Party Starter” package which included steaks, burgers, pork chops, gourmet buns and spices.

Breakfast of Champions - Steak and Eggs

Breakfast of Champions – Steak and Eggs

(Disclaimer: We did receive a sample package from Feed the Party for free. The fact this sample was provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)

We brought the Feed the Party “Party Starter” to the San Diego Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars game a couple of weeks ago and we can honestly say the food and the quality did not disappoint. We did the NY Strips in the morning for a little steak and eggs to start the day off right. (We also added some bacon but then again, who is really going to argue about adding some bacon?) The steaks were tender and perfectly cut. Steak and eggs in the morning never tasted so good unless you have had them on the blacktop outside of a football stadium. We also added some grilled onions and mini peppers to round out the most important meal of the day. Although breakfast was an awesome meal, we didn’t stop there and grilled up some more Feed the Party grub before heading inside.

Gourmet burgers from Feed the Party

Gourmet burgers from Feed the Party

For lunch we hit the burgers from Feed the Party. We grilled up only four of the eight burgers that came in our Party Starter kit because they were rather big and we were still a little full from breakfast. Thankfully we had some guests join our party late and were able to share these burgers with them.

The burgers were great and full of flavor. I chose to wrap mine in lettuce leaves choosing the low carb route while our late arriving guests were not watching their carbs and went with the buns that came in the Feed the Party package. They commented how they loved the burgers and the buns really made the burgers complete.

(Those of you that follow Tailgating Ideas on Twitter and Instagram might recognize those photos. We shared them in real time on the day of the tailgate via those social media channels.)

Overall, the food from Feed the Party was outstanding. The speed and convenience of having your tailgate party food delivered directly to your door was exceptional and honestly, the price was excellent. The food included in the Party Starter package is priced at about $60 and when you factor in free shipping and not having to burn your own gas going to the store or the butcher shop, it is well worth the price.

If that wasn’t enough convincing, we mentioned earlier that a portion of each sale of a Feed the Party food pack goes to charity. Feed the Party is based out of Kentucky and their charity of choice is the Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville, Kentucky. So if you not only want some quality tailgating grub and want to give back to the community at large, Feed the Party would be a great way to go about it.

With all things considered, the quality of food, the fast and free delivery and the price, we are going to definitely label Feed the Party “Tailgate Approved”. Of course we focus primarily on tailgating here but in addition to tailgating, any of the Feed The Party packages would be great for “Homegating”, when you want to have friends over to watch the game on TV when your team is on the road.

To learn more about Feed the Party or to pick up a package for your next tailgate party, visit: feedtheparty.com

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The Tailgating Kit

Posted by Dave On October - 2 - 2014
The Tailgating Kit - Standard Kid unloaded

The Tailgating Kit- Standard in boxes

When you host a tailgate party, you need a way to serve the food. Most of us will stock up at our local warehouse store or grocery store and buy paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, aluminum foil, condiments, etc. Before the next tailgate you have to remember how much of each thing you used last time and make another trip back to the store and restock what you used up last time out in the parking lot.

The creators of TheTailgatingKit.com think they may have an answer for this age old problem. They have taken all of the essential tailgating items you could possibly need for tailgating, placed it in one convenient box and will ship it right to your door. You determine how many people will be at your tailgate and then choose the size tailgating kit and it will suit your needs. All you need to do is remember to bring the food and drinks and everything else can be found all in the box.

We thought this was a cool concept to alleviate all the running around from store to store where some places might not have everything you need all in one place. We requested a few samples of The Tailgating Kit and took it to the San Diego Chargers vs Jacksonville Jaguars game to test it out. We wanted to see if The Tailgating Kit had everything we were going to need to throw a successful tailgate party.

The Tailgating Kit comes in three different sizes; The Basic Kit, the Standard Kit and the Premium Kit. The Basic Kit is compiled for those hosting a tailgate party with 15 people or less. The Standard Kit is designed for parties up to about 20 people and the Premium Kit can handle 25 people. We took the Standard Kit with us to the Chargers/Jaguars game and when we unpacked it, we knew we had more than enough gear to handle all of our guest’s needs.

The Tailgating Kit- Standard box unloaded on 8' tailgating table

The Tailgating Kit- Standard Kit items on an 8′ tailgating table

The Standard Kit comes with:

1 – 8 Piece Fold-A-Way Buffet Set
20 – Dinner Bowls
30 – Dinner Plates
3 – Chip Bowls
2 – Serving Platters
2 – Plastic Table Cloths
1 – Ketchup Bottle
1 – Mustard Bottle
20 – Mayonnaise Packets
1 – Salt Shaker
1 – Pepper Shaker
1 – Wet Naps Pack
20 – Napkins
1 – Paper Towel Roll
1 – Roll of Toilet Paper
20 – Fork, Spoon, Knife and Napkin Combos
20 – Standard Cups
1 – Box Aluminum Foil
3 – Serving Spoons
2 – Tongs
2 – Garbage Bags
3 – Zip Lock Storage Bags (one gallon)
3 – Zip Lock Storage Bags (one quart)
2 – Koozies

Using the Standard Kit as the baseline, the Basic Kit and the Premium Kits have basically the same things in there only more or less quantity based on your estimate of how many guests to expect.

After bringing the Standard Kit to our tailgate, we were not looking around to find anything that might have been missing or forgotten. Everything that we needed for a successful tailgate was all included. Another feature of the Standard Kit was that after you unload all of the stuff out, you line it and the shipping box can be used as a cooler as well. Just throw your beverages in there and add ice and you have yourself a cooler. Once the tailgate is over and you are about to head inside, just throw all your plates and used items in the box and take it to the trash.

The Basic Kit is priced at $54.99 for the time being with the Standard Kit going for $99.99 and the Premium Kit is only available for a limited time and will run you $129.99. Many might claim that you can compile a kit with all the same items for less money but keep in mind, you are paying for the convenience of having it delivered to your door. You are not having to run all over town to two or three different stores to put together this kit on your own.

If you like the convenience of having all of your serving gear in one box and ready to go for each and tailgate, The Tailgating Kit is for you. Based on the convenience and not having to hassle with buying and packing your kit, we are going to deem the Tailgating Kit “Tailgate Approved”.

To learn more about the The Tailgating Kit, visit their website: The Tailgating Kit to see how much gear goes into each kit.

Updated: For a limited time, The Tailgating Kit is offering free shipping exclusive to TailgatingIdeas.com readers. Anyone ordering any size of The Tailgating Kit can receive free shipping by using coupon code “500”. Depending on the size kit you choose, receiving free shipping could be a savings of $15 all the way to $45. Make sure to use coupon code 500 during check out and get your free shipping.

The Tailgater by Dish Network

Review: DISH Tailgater

Posted by Dave On September - 25 - 2014

Dish Tailgate Featured

For years, tailgaters have upped the ante when it comes to bringing all the creature comforts of home to the tailgating parking lots. Satellite TV is just one of the modern day conveniences we can’t imagine living without while tailgating.

Unfortunately, setting up the satellite dish on a tripod, finding the correct angle and the azimuth, (what the hell is an Azimuth?) and locking in the strongest signal was such a pain. It took too long and frankly, detracted from you doing what you came to do; tailgate. We are tailgaters, not astronomers. Some tailgaters grew frustrated and would leave the satellite TV at home because it was too much of a hassle and took too long to set up. But, technology kept advancing and in 2009, we discovered the VuQube.

DISH Tailgater and VuQube side-by-side

DISH Tailgater and VuQube side-by-side

Thinking the VuQube was the answer to all of our prayers, we raved about it for years and even got one of our own. (We actually purchased a VuQube on our own and it was not sent to us as a sample to review.) We used it religiously while tailgating for years and always thought the small glitches and annoyances were just part of the overall experience.

The only complaints we had were the set-up time would take a little longer than what was advertised depending on our location. Pointing the dish and using the remote to find the strongest signal was time consuming and you would need to be watching the signal bars on your TV to see what was the strongest signal you could get. This sometimes would take 20 minutes because you would get a strong signal and not knowing if it was the strongest, would see if it could go even stronger, and would eventually lose it and have to try and reacquire it. Again, we just thought this was all par for the course if we wanted to have satellite TV at our tailgate, this was just something you dealt with.

DISH Tailgater portable satellite TV antena

DISH Tailgater portable satellite TV antenna

Last year, we heard about the DISH Tailgater and had heard rumors that it was easier to set up and was fully automatic. It looked exactly like the VuQube we had been using for years but we heard it was so much easier to set up.

You mean we no longer had to push buttons up/down and left/right to get the strongest signal? You’re telling me with the DISH Tailgater I just push a few buttons and I can walk away and the strongest TV signal will be found for me? If this is true, then sign me up.

After doing a little research and investigation on the DISH Tailgater, we discovered that it was essentially the same hardware, made my a company called King Controls in Minnesota, but had been improved upon drastically. Since the DISH Tailgater is made by the same company that made the VuQube, that is why it was about the same size and weight. You still powered the Tailgater by the single coax cable and did not require additional power. The main difference was in the set up.

(Disclaimer: We did receive a DISH Tailagater and receiver  for free. The fact these samples were provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)

DISH Tailgater on roof of van at Qualcomm Stadium prior to the San Diego Chargers game

DISH Tailgater on roof of van with Seattle Seahawk fans walking by

We thought no better place to test drive the DISH Tailgater than while out tailgating an NFL game. We chose the San Diego Chargers 2014 home opener vs. the defending Super Bowl champions, Seattle Seahawks to test it out. We did what we normally do in that we parked, set up our tailgate gear and started to tailgate. Of course you will need a power source (we use a generator) and set up the DISH Tailgater. We placed the tailgater on top of the TailgatingIdeas.com van to get a clear view of the southern sky. We ran the coax cable to our DISH Network receiver and connected it to our TV. We turned everything on and the first screen we saw was a test screen asking us what part of the United Stated we were located. We selected Southern California and the DISH Tailgater proceeded to run through three tests.

DISH Tailgater on roof of van at Qualcomm Stadium prior to the San Diego Chargers game

DISH Tailgater on roof of van at Qualcomm Stadium prior to the San Diego Chargers game

Keep in mind, once we started the test, we did not have to stand in front of the TV and monitor it to make sure the strongest signal was being pulled. We simply walked away, checked on the grill, grabbed another cold beer and went over and greeted the new people who just pulled in next to us. Within this time, the three tests were completed and I came back to a screen informing me that the DISH Tailgater and receiver were acquiring the satellite signal. After that was completed in a total of about 90 seconds, the next screen said it was downloading the program guide. After the program guide successfully downloaded in a matter of about two minutes, up pops our programming. I picked up the remote, selected the pregame show we wanted to watch before the first set of NFL games started and we were off and running.

NFL Football game shown in the parking lot off of a DISH Tailgater system

NFL Football game shown in the parking lot off of the DISH Tailgater

The picture quality was superb and we were able to watch all the programming we wanted from my DISH Network account. Not that we watched anything else other than the early NFL football games while tailgating but it was good to know we could if we had kids that wanted to watch cartoons or something other than football.

Once it was time to pack up and head inside for the game, break down and storage was a breeze. We simply disconnected the DISH Tailgater from the receiver, wound up all of our cords and cables, took the Tailgater off the roof and packed it securely inside the van. It truly was extremely simple and fast to set up and was just as fast and easy to stow away.

After thoroughly testing out the DISH Tailgater, it’s ease of set-up and excellent picture quality, we are going to label the DISH Tailgater “Tailgate Approved”.

The time you will save by not having to search for a satellite signal will be worth the price alone. How much is 20 minutes of your time while out in the tailgating parking lot? To me, my time while tailgating is priceless, so any piece of equipment that enhances that experience that takes little to no time to set up, I am a believer.

We plan on taking the DISH Tailgater to this Sunday’s San Diego Chargers game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars and for the remainder of the season. The DISH Tailgater will be a regular piece of our tailgating gear no matter where we park.

The DISH Tailgater is available through a wide array of retailers including, Camping World, Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Walmart, among others. For a complete list of retailers where you can find and purchase the DISH Tailgater, visit King Controls website HERE.

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About Me

TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

To learn more about TailgatingIdeas.com and our team of writers, reviewers, cartoonists and contributors, please visit the About Us page.

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