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Posts Tagged ‘Frozen Pizza Review’

Frozen Pizza Review – Green Mill

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Green Mill Frozen Pizza ReviewSuzy Applebaum introduced me to the Green Mill;  we were both employed at KSTP in Minneapolis- St. Paul, and I had asked her to go to lunch.  She suggested the Green Mill.  At the time, it was a small bar on Hamline Avenue in St. Paul that specialized in deep dish pizza.  It had opened in the 30s as a soda fountain at the same location.

I had a monster crush on Suzy, who hailed from a local grocery store dynasty family;  if I knew then I was going to spend the rest of my life obsessed with food, well, I might have wised up and pursued Suzy with vigor, but I knew I was outclassed from the get-go.

The legend of the local bar with great pizza grew, and today, there are 27 locations across the Midwest, serving a full menu in addition to their pizza.

There was one other significant event in my life that took place at a Green Mill, the rehearsal dinner for my wedding.  It was at the Uptown location on South Hennepin in Minneapolis, and no, it wasn’t my  selfish love of pizza that made that event happen there, but was rather my mother’s choice.  My mother loved to go with me to places that were “on the wrong side of the tracks”, and it was “our thing” to explore someplace new every time she came to the Twin Cities when I was living there.

As with most successful pizzerias, Green Mill has launched a frozen pizza line, and they are being made and distributed by a Minnesota pizza manufacturer, Bernatellos.  Minnesota somehow became the frozen pizza capital of the US, with a gaggle of brands being made across the state:  Jeno’s, Totino’s, Roma, Red Baron, Freschetta, Tony’s, Giovannis, Kettle River….I’m sure I’m forgetting many, but you get the idea.

I purchased the “Thin and Crispy” style with three meats, sausage, pepperoni and bacon.  It’s a 15 ounce affair and was priced at 2 / $11 or .73 per ounce, and that’s steep for a frozen pie.

The three pix below represent the box, note the “authentic restaurant-style flavors”  (boy, that’s as vague as can be, isn’t it?);  the unbaked pie is kind of a misrepresentation, I pushed all the included pepperoni to one side of the pie.  The last picture represents the baked pie, 10 minutes at 425.

The picture of the cooked pizza kind of tells the whole story, when you note the “glistening” on the surface.  This is a fairly greasy pizza, and the ‘cupping’ and slight char on the pepperoni indicates a high fat content (which would explain some of the oil).  The pork sausage is realtively unseasoned.  It’s a crispy crust, pleasant enough, nice herb treatment, including fennel.  Tomato sauce on the sweet side.

The ingredients list doesn’t include a whole lot of preservatives, these are pretty pure ingredients.   The flavor is simply not to my taste, but it might be perfect for you!

 

green mill

 

 

Green Mill Frozen Pizza

Unbaked

 

Green Mill Frozen Pizza

Baked, 10 minutes at 425

 

 

 

 

Frozen Pizza Review

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Original Naan Pizza Review

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Original Naan Pizza ReviewDeep Foods, a New Jersey company founded in 1977, markets prepared, frozen and boxed foods of India and Southeast Asia.  At my local Indian grocery, Patel Brothers, I picked up their Tandoor Baked Cheese Naan Pizza.  Naan is an oven-baked leavened flatbread product, native to SE Asia and the Middle East, kinda similar to pita.  (Sidebar – I lived on a small island in the South China sea for a number of years. There was a small Indian restaurant there, about six seats, and they made naan in all sorts of interest ‘flavors.’ My favorite was blue cheese).

Oven baked for 15+ minutes at 425, the “pizza” was obviously pre-cooked in a tandoor, as evidenced by the char marks.

The naan is a nice quality for a pizza crust, crispy at the distant edge, chewy towards the middle, about the same thickness as chain “hand-tossed” pizzas.

As this is traditional Indian cuisine, there are no meat options for the pies, and this cheese one was just fine, reminiscent of value-priced frozen pizza brands.

Kinda curious about why the cheese melted differently at different spots on the bread, but in the end, didn’t matter. Few to none preservatives in the ingredient list.  I’d buy it again.

Original Naan Pizza Review

 

Deep Foods TV Commercial Further Explains “Naan”
Naan Pizza Review

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Halftime Pizza Review

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Yet another Upper Midwest  frozen “tavern pizza,” Halftime was launched out of a popular rural bar an hour NW of Chicago.  If you’re a regular reader here, you know how much I admire small business owners, and guys like this, trying to enter a very crowded field, with (presumably) a marketing budget that can’t possibly compete in the space, well you have to give them an “E” for effort, and wish them the best of luck.

The package boasts include “made by hand” and “The Official Pizza of Brookfield Zoo.”  (If you’ve never been to Brookfield, it’s worth a trip). Ingredients are pretty straightforward, except there’s that dreaded corn syrup derivative, which I hate seeing in any product.

Instructions call for middle shelf, 450, 12-15 minutes.  On a cookie sheet if you prefer a softer crust.

I checked at the 12 minute mark, and opted for another minute.  On the plus side, I liked the larger chunks of hand-pulled Italian sausage, and the very thin crust is cracker crunchy.  The sausage could use more flavor (for my taste, only), and the sauce is very strongly flavored.  Cheese is adequate, but more would be nice.

The pies sell for $12 + at the bar, have a suggested retail price of $10 at the grocer, I paid $7.99 on sale.  At a $10 price point, these guys are competing in the upper range of frozen pizzas, and they are in for a tough fight.  As a smaller manufacturer, lacking the economies of scale, purchasing, and automation, their price probably reflects the minimum number to make a profit.

But for me, the taste, texture and ingredients are more reminiscent of a pie in the ‘value range’ of frozen pizzas, competing with brands like Tony’s, Tombstone and the like, but of course, those brands pricing is considerably less.

The pies are made in McHenry, IL at USDA est 51161, located at 4025 W. Main Street, and pictured below, if Google maps is accurate.  Locator.

Halftime Pizza Review

Packaging

Halftime Pizza Review

Frozen, from packaging

Halftime Pizza Review

McHenry, Illinois Factory

 

Halftime Frozen Pizza Review

13 minutes, at 450

 

Halftime Pizza Review

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Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

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Mystic Pizza Frozen ReviewFrom the oven of a small town pie shop in Mystic, Connecticut, comes this frozen version which their publicity states is made from the same ingredients and in the same manner as the restaurant pizzas.  Many people became aware of this pizzeria from the Julia Roberts vehicle, “Mystic Pizza.”

The pies have been available in the Northeast for some time, and are now working their way across the country, making it as far as Minnesota (Whole Foods) and Wisconsin (Woodmans). Locator here.

I picked up the Italian Sausage variety, 22 oz for about seven bucks.  15-20 minutes at 400 are the baking specs.  Mine came out at 16 minutes.

I am a bit conflicted as to how to describe this pizza, other than to say it’s “ok.”   When I took it out of the box, frozen, it had a definite pizzeria aroma to it, but unfortunately, that didn’t come through after baking.

The crust is good, doughy, thicker than I like but enjoyable.  The illustration on the box shows a smidgen more cheese than the actual product.  The sauce is very mild, as is the Italian sausage, which surprised me.  It’s a pure pork product, with seasonings and spices added, but it could actually pass for a beef sausage, almost.  Needs more fennel and garlic.

Would I buy it again?  If it was on sale, probably.  I remain convinced the frozen pie that I have had that most closely resembles one that comes out of the oven in a shop, is Chicago’s Vito and Nicks II.

Postscript:  I started ‘picking’ at the pie in the end, and when I peeled the toppings (cheese, herbs, and sausage) off the crust, and consumed it that way, I quite liked it.  So if they came out with an ultra thin/crispy crust, I would probably be a regular.

 

Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

Out of the box

 

Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

Out of the oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

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Home Cookin’ – Connie’s Sausage and Uncured Pepperoni Frozen Pizza Reviews

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I’ve previously tried a Connie’s, an “all natural” line out of Chicago.  Today I spotted one with “uncured pepperoni” so I thought I would give that a world.

In any increasingly (pseudo) health-conscious world, “uncured” meats are all the rage.  What exactly are uncured meats?  You see the label on bacon and other pork products these days, mostly.

“Uncured” means no preservatives, no additives, no added MSG, and more importantly, no sodium nitrates or sodium nitrites, which seem to cause problems for some people.

A peculiarity here is that according to the USDA, for a pork product to be called “bacon”, it must come from cured pork bellies. Apparently saying “Uncured bacon,”  skirts the rule.

Sodium nitrates (salt peter) an sodium nitrites (pink salt) are two very common additives to cured meat; the former preserves the food, the latter provides a rosy color that Americans associate with “healthy meat.”

Connie's Frozen Pizza

Uncooked, Out of the Box

Herein lies the problem: the rest of the ingredients in most “uncured” meats (including Connie’s pepperoni) are the very components one uses to cure meats:  celery powder, spices, and so on.

So it’s one of those tricky labeling things – akin to the the flaps over “all natural”, “gluten free” and so on.

But this website doesn’t exist for finger pointing (unless we get into a whole discussion about “American Kobe” beef, but rather to sample wares available to the public and tell said public what the author of this missive thinks about said ware.

And Connie’s Thin Crust Sausage and Uncured Pepperoni is largely OK.  Flavorful sauce, pork products are nice, enough cheese, but for some reason, I can never get their crusts to crisp up in the oven –  let your pie sit for 5-10 minutes after removing it from the heat, and it will be crisp enough for most pizza lovers, if a thin crispy crust in one of your preferences.

I like the pork sausage, fairly mild, I couldn’t make out any discernable difference between this pepperoni and any other.

Another reason this one caught my eye today? It was on sale, for less than $6, and frozen pizzas are creeping up lately. You may recall I paid $10 for a frozen pizza a couple weeks ago.

That’s a tough slice to swallow, for me.

Connie's Frozen Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Pizza Reviews

 

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Home Cookin’ – 7-Eleven Frozen Pizza, Test 3

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7-Eleven Frozen Pizza, Unbaked

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza, Unbaked


Is the third time a charm? Perhaps. After 2 uneven results, I decided to make a third attempt at making 7-Eleven’s frozen Self-Rising Crust Pizza at home.

At $5.99 for 29 ounces, this is a solid value proposition, compared with other frozen pies. The Supreme comes topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, peppers, onion, black olives, a cheese blend, garlic and oregano.

7-Eleven’s pies are made by Chicago’s “Great Kitchens, Inc.,” the largest manufacturer of take and bake pizzas in the country. In addition to 7-Eleven, they supply Wal-Mart, Costco, Trader Joe’s and others, according to various press releases found online today.

Out of the box, the pie resembles most any frozen offerings at similar price points.  A nominal quantity of toppings is included.  Following the instructions, I preheated at 425, and baked the pie directly on the center rack for 20 minutes.

The result is seen below.  The instructions advise letting it sit for a moment or two before slicing, and that I did, and it worked out better, one supposes, than cutting it right out of the oven.

The pie has a little more ‘kick’ to it than the pepperoni and cheese ones I have sampled in the past.  This is probably due to a slight variation in the sauce recipe, or residual effect from the peppers and onions, though it did not seem that localized to me.

Would I buy it again?  Sure.  It’s convenient, for me, as 7-Eleven is a short walk, and although both they, and a competing mart across the street carry “name brand” pies, at $5.99 7-Eleven’s is a full two bucks cheaper.

And that’s a good deal.

 

7-Eleven Frozen Supreme Pizza

7-Eleven Frozen Supreme Pizza

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Tonys Pizza Review – Garlic Cheese “Bread”

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Tonys Pizza Review

Tony’s Pizza Logo

Schwans, a Minnesota company primarily in the direct to consumer (home delivery) food business, acquired the Tony’s Brand in 1970, and started selling the pizzas direct to consumers, and eventually, to grocery stores.  

Tony’s is part of a much larger portfolio at Schwans now, which also includes the Fruschetta and Red Baron pizza brands.

Schwans has 6,700 trucks in the US, delivering fresh and frozen food items to homes all over America.  One might be surprised that in this day and age, this business had not only survived, but thrived.  Worldwide, Schwans has over 18,000 employees!

Tony’s sells a variety of what I would call “value-priced” frozen pizza products, including their original crust, thin & crispy crust, individual pizzas, snack rolls, and individual microwavable snack pizzas.

I’m not sure which national pizza chain started the idea of using a crust, putting cheese and sauce on it,  cutting it on a different bias, and calling it “pizza bread” or some variation, but for some reason I am thinking it was Little Caesars.  

But it has become common place at the national pizza chains, and has started to make it’s way into the frozen pizza sections of grocery stores.   One might find “garlic cheese bread” as a selection, as I did with Tony’s; other brands sell a combination pack of frozen pizza and “breadsticks” such as one might order at a chain pizzeria. DiGiorno, a frozen pizza grand created by food giant Kraft, sells the combo product.  

DiGiorno was sold to Swiss food giant Nestle earlier this year.  It joined other iconic frozen food brands in the Nestle portfolio, like Maggi, Lean Cuisine, Hot Pockets, and Stouffer’s.

Tony’s Garlic Cheese Bread is part of Tony’s “original crust” pizza line, although the product does not have the word “pizza”on its box.  Instructions call for baking the ‘pie’ at 425 for 9-11 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the crust is browned.

The taste is more than adequate for this type of value-priced product.   If you slice it in long pieces, it’s cheese bread; triangles or squares, and topped with your leftovers, it’s a pizza.   With the current promotion of a coupon on every box for one free game of bowling, basically you are getting the pizza for free (if you bowl).

If you’re looking for Tony’s products, you can find them in nearly every frozen food section of groceries across the US, or use the handy “Where to Buy” locator on their website.  If you are interested in having Schwan’s food service deliver top-notch groceries and treats directly to your door, you can contact your local delivery point via the box in the upper left hand corner of their home page.

And if being a Schwans delivery person seems like a good career move for you, start the application process here.

 

Tonys Pizza Review


Tonys Pizza Review

Tonys Pizza Review

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