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Posts Tagged ‘Home cooking pizza test’

Home Cookin’ – Ovenworks Frozen Pizza


Ovenworks brand frozen pizza is a pie that hails from Eau Claire (“oh clare”), Wisconsin, and proudly brandishes a phrase on their packaging “featuring 100% Wisconsin real Wisconsin cheese and premium ingredients.”  The company has been in business for over twenty-five years, and the pies are shipped out of a factory in tiny Glen Flora, Wisconsin, and the products have limited geographical distribution in the Upper Midwest.

I got the combo, which for Ovenworks means sausage and pepperoni.  In the Upper Midwest, this crust is called “thin”, in other parts of the country it would qualify as “ultra thin.”   Whichever label you affix to it, it’s the style I prefer.

Instructions call for 10-14 minutes at 425.  At 12, it seemed to be done.  The first thing I noticed upon taking it out of the oven, was it SMELLED like a pizzeria.  A nice surprise.   And using ‘shaved’ cheese instead of shredded is brilliant, it provides for a nice edge to edge melt.  There is a smattering of cheddar mixed in, I don’t think I have seen that outside of the St. Louis area before, where it is common.

I would like a larger quantity of toppings, but their flavor is good.  The sausage is very mild.  The sauce has a little tang to it, and the crust is extra crispy on the outer perimeter, and gets chewier as you work your way in.   That’s a good thing.

Their full line includes several different choices of crust styles, and some gluten free offerings as well.

I’d never heard of this pie before.  It’s a nice addition to the frozen pie choices.  I like it.

Ovenworks Frozen Pizza

Prior to baking












Ovenworks Frozen Pizza

Baked Pie


Home Cookin’ – Reggio’s Frozen Sausage Pizza – Personal Size


I’ve written about frozen pizzas specific to the Chicago area previously, and about this particular brand, Reggio’s.  Reggio’s is one of my two favorite Chicago area frozen pies, and it’s a toss up for the number one spot.

The personal sized sausage pizza clocks in at 8 ounces, with a half of a pie as a serving, for 280 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 33 g carbs.  It can be “baked” either in the microwave or regular oven, and if you’re a regular reader, you know I always opt for the conventional method.

The instructions say 400 for about 7-10 minutes, and I went with the full 10.   It’s a flavorful pie, with a buttery, crisp crust.  You’ll like the natural cheese Reggio’s uses;  at least I do.

Here are pix of the pie ‘before and after’.

Reggio's Frozen Pizza












Reggio's Frozen Pizza






Connie’s “Naturals” – Another Chicago Frozen Pizza


Connie’s “Natural” is another frozen pie spawned from a Chicago pizzeria.   Their hook is the product is “all natural”, which isn’t a selling point for me, personally, but it appears to make some people happy.

In 1963, Jim Stolfe traded his 1962 Oldsmobile for a small pizza shop on Chicago’s south side.  Over the past 50 years, the family has grown that small pizzeria into a mini empire, comprised of restaurants, branded concepts, commercial food service, and frozen product for consumers.

I reviewed some other Chicago frozen pies recently, and today we’ll see how Connie’s stands up to the others.  First off, it was on sale for $5, and at 23.3 ounces, that comes in at about 21 cents per ounce, and that’s  a pretty good deal in frozen pizza land.

The ingredient list does, indeed, look all “natural.”  The crust is flour, water, oil, sugar, yeas, salt, milk, cornmeal, granulated garlic.  That’s the same ingredient list that I use to make crust from scratch at home.

Mozzarella Cheese.  Sauce is tomatoes, water, oil, salt seasoning, cheese.  Sausage is pork, spices, water, salt, sugar, dried garlic, lemon juice, rosemary extract, and oil.  You can get much more “natural” than that!

Directions are to bake at 400 for 16-18 minutes.  Results are pictured below.  It’s a fairly crispy crust; the box’s suggestion for a crispier crust, brush the bottom and sides of the crust with olive oil before baking.  I did not try that method this time.  The tomato sauce tastes like……………….tomatoes!   Cheese is good; it’s shredded on the pie.  The sausage didn’t grab me.  I’d like larger chunks, more of them, with more flavor.  I personally subscribe to the school of thought that Italian sausage needs fennel, and Connie’s lacks it.  Just a personal preference.

Overall, it’s a good pie.  Would I buy it regularly ahead of the other Chicago frozens, Home Run or Reggios?   Don’t think so, but I’d buy it if it was at this same sale price again, and it’d be my first choice if HRI or Reggios wasn’t available.

The pie I bought, thin crust sausage, is described here.

If you’re in the Chicago area, and want to visit a Connie’s restaurant, here’s a typical menu.

Connie's Frozen Pizza

Connie’s, Unbaked


Connie's Frozen Pizza

Baked at 400, 18 minutse


Gino’s East of Chicago – Frozen Classic Sausage Patty Deep Dish Pizza


(From our archives) True “Chicago Deep Dish” pizza was ‘invented’ in the 1940s by Pizzeria Uno.   Some folks claim the Malnati family deserves the credit too.   But in 1966, two cabbies and a friend started Gino’s East in downtown Chicago, and for me, that’s the epitome of Chicago deep dish.

Chicago deep dish should not be confused with offerings of the same name in other parts of the country, the Chicago crust is nearly thin, and the “deep’ comes from the toppings piled into the pie pan.   Some establishments, like Gino’s,  layer the pizza thusly,  crust/cheese/meat/sauce/seasonings, and in the case of the sausage pie, the sausage stretches the entire diameter of the pizza, forming a rather large Italian sausage patty.

Few restaurants have been able to translate their recipes to the grocery store successfully, but Gino’s makes the grade with their Classic Sausage Patty, two-pound, handmade pie.    The ingredients are not adulterated by a lot of additives; the pie is fairly pure on the ingredient list.  Many Chicago pie crust makers add a “buttery flavor” to the dough, and Gino’s is no exception.

It takes about 40 minutes in a 425 oven to bring this beauty to the plate.

The wait is worth it.

To find Gino’s frozen pies near you, use the locator, or you can have them shipped to you, as well.

Gino's East Frozen Classic Sausage Deep Dish Pizza


Home Cookin’ Test – Newman’s Own Uncured Pepperoni Pizza

Newman's Own Uncured Pepperoni

Unbaked Pie

Seems to me (and I could be wrong, usually am) that Newman’s own product launches have picked up since the founder’s passing.  No matter, just an observation.  Today I took a look at their “All Natural Ingredient” “Uncured Pepperoni” “Thin and Crispy” pie.

At $6.99 at my local Safeway, for a 13.2 oz pizza, Newman’s Own comes in at a little over 53 cents an ounce, not that great a value for frozen pizzas.

The instructions said to bake directly on the shelf at 425 for 10-12 minutes, and I complied.  It’s a new oven, so the temp is accurate, and right at 10 minutes, it was a little on the done side.

The crust is definitely ‘thin and crispy’, but that’s my own personal preference, so that was fine with me.   The sauce and cheese were relatively mild, with a hint of heat.   The pepperoni cupped, which is generally an indication of a higher fat content, but as I am not an expert in these matters, “non-cupping” may well come from preservatives, I simply don’t know.

Did I like it?  You bet.  Would I pick it up again?  Yes, but I will look for sales events.

Newman's Own Uncured Pepperoni

Baked pie


Nationwide – Papa Murphy’s Take and Bake


Papa Murphy'sBack in the day, before there were national chains that offered TNB, there was a local one in my home town.  It was next door to a place that sold soda by the case, in a myriad of flavors, with their own label on it.  I don’t remember the names of either place.

Every week, I get Papa Murphy’s coupons in the mail, they come on Tuesdays with some other postal flyers.   They are usually a better deal than any of the other chains, today it was $10 for a large 5 meat stuffed pie.

This pizza has the usual cheese, sauce, and is topped with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, and the other kind of bacon, then a second crust is placed on top of that, and some more sauce, cheese, and ground beef is sprinkled atop the outer crust.

I swear this puppy weighed in at 5 pounds, making it a terrific value.  It could feed a large family, I am sure. (I was only good for two small slices, which still blew my carb allowance for the day).

Papa Murphy’s supplies their pies on a disposable baking tray, so all you have to do is follow the instructions, 425, center rack, 25-30 minutes, take it off the tray and place directly on the rack after 20 for a crispier crust.

It’s been eons since I had a Papa Murphy’s, and I have to say, for the “value chains”, this is my new bestest favorite.   The crust was crispy, there is tons of cheese, mild sauce, and it is crammed full of processed pork products.

Below are pix of the pie uncooked, cooked, and of a slice.  The side view of the slice shows the ample ingredients.

I don’t know why I haven’t picked these up more often. I will  in the future.

Papa Murphy's Pizza

Papa Murphy's Pizza


Papa Murphy's Pizza



Home Cooking Test – Target Frozen Pizza


Target Stores has developed their own in-store brand for many foods carried in the grocery section – the brand name is Archer Farms.

Last nite we were picking up a few pre-holiday items, and by impulse, I grabbed the frozen “Sicilian Style Thin Crust Pizza.”

The further description offered on the box front states “Genoa salami, capicola ham, and Italian sausage.”

While there are many Archer Farms products which are “natural” or certified Organic, this product does not fit into that category, and allergen information states clearly the product contains wheat, soy, and milk.

The Archer Farms product closely resembles California Pizza Kitchen’s “Sicilian Style” frozen pie, in terms of ingredients, appearance, texture and taste. (CPK’s variety includes more herbs than Target’s.

There are two things immediately obvious with the Archer Farm’s product, first, of course, being the price difference – it’s  couple of bucks less than the CPK offering.

Archer Farm’s pie has (by the eyeball measuring method), more toppings.  The label tells us that the meat toppings on the Target pizza are all pork.

This is an “ultra” thin crust pizza, ‘cracker-crispy” throughout, and bakes quickly (9-10 minutes) in a conventional oven.  The sauce is slightly on the sweet side, and I enjoyed the meat toppings immensely, especially the large format pieces of sausage, and the salami.

Fennel was a detectible presence, and that’s one of my favorite sausage flavors.

At the price, less than $5, it’s a very good value in frozen pizza.

If you enjoy thin crust, meat topped frozen pies, Archer Farm’s Sicilian Style is a good bet.  Now appearing at many Target Stores near you. (Locator).



Home Cookin’ Test – Red Baron Fire Baked Crust


One I have tried before, just a quick update      because they were on sale for about $2, and     Mrs. BDB and her friends were enjoying yet     another vegan dinner at our house….and I was   going through carnivore withdrawal (that’s  what SHE said).

My impression last time was largely favorable, and either my taste buds are changing (probably constantly) or the recipe has been varied a little bit.  This time around, I found the sauce a little too “sweet” for my liking.  Didn’t put me off eating the entire 160 carb pie of course (more insulin, please), but OK, I don’t have the capacity that I used to, and the 18.76 ounces of Italian-Style Meat Trio pie took three different consumption periods (note that we no longer call them “meals” at our house) to polish off.

In old economy speak, those “consumption periods” would have been called “dinner”, “4th meal”, and “breakfast.”   So it’s really not a feat worth bragging about, not compared to my college days when I could polish off two 14″ pies from Basil’s Pizza (nee “Bill’s Pizza”) , in Northfield, MN, all be my lonesome (with a pitcher of beer chaser).

I also took exception to the ‘oiliness’ this time, a close-up pic (below) shows a puddle of ‘grease’ – which with a delivered pizza would have decorated the take-out box and been lessened, a bit, I suspect.

Overall?  A fantastic value at the price, and they are frequently on sale.

Red Baron Fire Baked Frozen Pizza


Kroger Brand Refrigerated Pizza – Double Pepperoni


Lots of pizza places will let you ‘double up’ on toppings, for a price.  You’ll see places that offer “double cheese”, or “double meat.”  At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll see places that limit the number of toppings, saying their pies aren’t meant for more than that.

So where can you go if you want quadruple toppings?  Other than a four cheese, which isn’t really four times as much, just quarter portions of each topping. 


Kroger "Welcome @ Home" Fresh Pizza

Kroger "Welcome @ Home" Fresh Pizza

Today I was in the mood for quadruple pepperoni.  So I hit my neighborhood Fred Meyer (Kroger) store, and perused the deli counter selection of “Welcome @ Home” fresh pizzas.   They priced out at $8.99 for all varieties, and weighed in at 38 ounces, or .23 per ounce, a good value in fresh/frozen pizzas.

The box instructs a 12-15 minute bake, and that freshness is guaranteed up until one day past the “sell by” date.

The crust is of a medium thickness, and toppings appear ample.  Pic is of uncooked pie, still shrink-wrapped.
After the 12 minute mark, the pie appears to be fully-cooked (below), and prior to eating, I added another layer of Hormel Pepperoni, and Tillamook Mozzarella, to complete my “quadruple pepp” pizza!

The sauce and cheese are non-offensive, the crust chewy inside, crispy outside, with a slight cornmeal dusting and taste.
It’s a good value for a family meal at the price, and occasionally you will find them with another dollar or two knocked off.


Kroger "Welcome @ Home" Fresh Pizza

Kroger "Welcome @ Home" Fresh Pizza


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