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Big, Blowout Barbecue, on a Budget

No Labor Day weekend is complete without a summer-ending barbecue.

And nobody does that better than chef Kevin Roberts, host of TLC's "Pitmasters" and author of the popular cookbook, "Munchies."

He accepted "The Early Show on Saturday Morning"'s "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge and, in the spirit of our holiday weekend spectacular, we doubled our usual "shoestring" budget, to $80.

And Kevin pulled out all the stops, grilling up a spread with all the fixin's. His menu included Summer Pasta Salad, Grilled Zucchini Boats, Kevin's Famous Ribs, Southwest Hot Dogs, Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, Cuban Burgers and, for dessert, Grilled Bananas a la Mode!

"Early Show" recipes galore!


Zucchini: This popular summer squash is shaped like a slightly curved cylinder, a bit smaller at the top than the bottom. A zucchini's skin color can vary from dark to light green, sometimes with yellow markings that give it a mottled or striped look. The off-white flesh has a very pale green cast and the flavor is light and delicate. Common market length is 4 to 8 inches long and 2 to 3 inches thick. However, some specimens are as tiny as a finger while others - usually those that are home-grown - can reach a mammoth 2 feet long by 6 inches in diameter (or more). Fresh zucchini is available year-round in most supermarkets, with a peak period during late spring. Select small zucchini, which will be younger and therefore more tender and have thinner skins. The skins should be free of blemishes and have a vibrant color. Zucchini can be cooked by a variety of methods including steaming, grilling, sautéing, deep-frying and baking. (Source:

Monterey Jack cheese: So-named because it originated in Monterey, Calif., this versatile cheese can be made from whole, partly skimmed or skimmed cow's milk. It's also called California Jack or simply jack cheese. The widely available unaged version is buttery-ivory in color, semisoft in texture and has a mild, somewhat bland flavor reminiscent of American Muenster. It has high moisture and good melting properties, making it excellent for sandwiches as well as for cooked dishes. Some versions contain flavorings such as jalapeño pepper, garlic and dill. Aged or dry Monterey Jack bears a closer resemblance to cheddar, with its yellow color, firmer texture and richer, sharper flavor. Because of its lower moisture content it's often used as a grating cheese. Unaged Monterey Jack is available throughout the United States, whereas the aged version is usually only found on the West Coast or in specialty cheese shops. Sonoma Jack cheese, produced in Sonoma County, California, is very similiar to Monterey Jack and has both semisoft and dry versions. (Source:

Buffalo Chicken: Buffalo, New York's, Anchor Bar originated this dish of deep-fried chicken wings served in a spicy hot sauce and accompanied by blue-cheese dressing. (Source:


Summer Pasta Salad

2 cans (6 ounces each) tuna or chicken, drained and chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can (12 ounces) black olives, sliced
3/4 cup Italian dressing
1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound pasta, cooked, drained and cooled (fusili, preferred but can also use rotini or tortellini)

Mix the tuna, green pepper, onion, and black olives in a large salad bowl.

Add the dressing, mixed herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and add the pasta. Toss, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Zucchini Boats

2 teaspoons butter
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 zucchini, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup shredded, Cheddar or Monterey Jack

Get your grill nice and hot. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, until it smells great but is not yet browning.

Dunk the zucchini halves in the mixture and coat well. Lay the halves flat side down on the grill.

Grill halves for about 5 minutes or until nice and grilled. Flip over, and add cheese equally across the length of zucchini.

Grill until nice and soft and cheese is melted. Serve warm.

For many more recipes,go to Page 2.

Kevin's Famous Ribs

The trick to grilling good ribs is slow n' low. Also, I rub mustard on mine to keep them really moist. I also like to keep it simple and this dry rub recipe is as simple as it gets.

1 full rack baby back or spare ribs
1 cup yellow mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup apple juice

Wash the ribs, pat dry and rub with yellow mustard evenly coating. In a bowl, mix the paprika, salt, pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Spread the dry rub on top of the mustard evenly coating the ribs.

Wrap in heavy duty foil, like a boat and add ½ cup apple juice, seal tightly. Place on a hot grill (300 degrees) for approximately 45 minutes or until cooked through.

*Note - for a smokey flavor, wrap wet wood chips in tin foil and add to bottom of grill, aka Smoke Bombs.

Southwest Hot Dogs

4 large hotdogs, the plumper the better
4 strips, Applewood smoked bacon
4 sausage-type buns
1 can or cup, pinto beans, rinsed, drained and heated
1 tomato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
mustard, to taste
mayonnaise to taste

Wrap each hot dog with a strip of bacon and grill until bacon is crispy and hot dog is cooked through. Toast or grill bun, add hot dog. Build your Southwestern hot dog by topping with beans, tomato, onion, mustard and mayo.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

1 pound shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1 cup Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce, divided
1/4 cup butter
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 large hamburger or Kaiser rolls

Toss coleslaw, blue cheese dressing and 1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce in large bowl. Cover and chill.

Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper to taste and grill, approx. 3.5-4 minutes per side or until cooked through

Heat 3/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce and butter in large saucepan - heat through. Dunk chicken in sauce to coat, allowing excess to drip off.

Place one chicken breast each on top of rolls, spoon on spicy coleslaw top and cut in half to serve.

Cuban Burger

4 ground patties, shaped into thin burgers
4 slices, Swiss cheese
4 hamburger buns, toasted or grilled
4 slices, ham
8 sliced thin pickles
1 cup, ground pork - browned until cooked through
4 tablespoons, yellow mustard

Grill the burgers until desired doneness. Add the cheese and melt. Build your Cuban burger by adding the ham, pickles, ground pork and yellow mustard.

Grilled Bananas a la Mode

4 firm bananas, sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup pecans crushed
4 scoops vanilla bean ice cream

Fire up that grill and lay a 10x10 piece of tinfoil down flat. Spread the butter evenly on the tin foil. Lay the bananas side by side on the tin foil. Sprinkle the cinnamon, brown sugar and honey on the banana slices.

Grill until golden and soft, about 4 minutes each side. Plate, sprinkle the pecans on top and then top with ice cream.

So, how did Kevin fare with our special budget of $80?

Summer Pasta Salad
tuna $2.78
green pepper $1.29
onion $1.12
olives $1.29
Italian dressing $2.50
herbs $2.50
pasta $1.29
total $12.77

Grilled Zucchini Boats
garlic $0.66
zucchini $3.24
shredded cheese $1.99
total $5.89

Kevin's Famous Ribs
ribs $3.99
mustard $1.79
paprika $0.99
garlic powder $0.99
cayenne pepper $2.69
apple juice $1.49
total $11.94

Southwest Hot Dogs
hot dogs $1.99
bacon $3.99
buns $1.50
pinto beans $0.67
tomato $0.85
onion $1.12
total $10.12

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
coleslaw mix $1.99
blue cheese dressing $2.50
cayenne pepper sauce $1.99
chicken $4.49
rolls $1.99
total $12.96

Cuban Burgers
beef $3.99
swiss cheese $2.69
buns $0.99
ham $2.25
pickles $2.50
ground pork $2.99
total $15.41

Grilled Bananas a La Mode
bananas $1.00
honey $1.99
pecans $3.99
ice cream $2.99
total $9.97

Kevin's grand total: $79.06

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