Friday, February 5, 2010

Cleo Coyle: Frozen Pizza Doctor and Pizza Toppings Poll!

Super Bowl Sunday is almost here. In order, I am looking forward to (#1) the half-time show because I love, love, love The Who, Who, Who and they’ll be performing Live, Live, Live... (#2) all those crazy, creative commercials; and (#3) the game. 1 Plain Cheese Frozen Pizza
(The Steelers are my team and they’re not in it this year, hence the game has fallen in priority.)
So...what’s to snack on?! While there are loads of delicious ideas around our blog, I’m sure many households will simply order pies from a local pizzeria.
Oh, sure, pizza delivery is fast and easy, but those $$$ can really add up, and the convenience isn’t always worth it. If you’ve ever had a pie arrive cold at your door with toppings that are less than spectacular (canned mushrooms on your pie, yikes!), then consider my quick & easy prescriptions for doctoring frozen pizza. (Unless of course there’s someone in your house who wants to flirt with the cute pizza delivery person, in which case these ideas are moot!)

The patient: Frozen Pizza
The diagnosis: No Pizazz (ok, no groaning!)
The perscription (Rx): See options below...

FROZEN PIZZA DOCTOR Rx #1: Start with a good brand. My favorite is Mystic Pizza. Yes, the same “slice of heaven” that inspired the screenwriter of Julia Roberts’ 1988 movie. I’d love to know your favorite brand. Just leave a note in the comments section below.

(If you never buy frozen pizza, I’ve got you covered. Check out the wonderful homemade pizza crust recipe from our recent Guest Blogger, Mary Jane Maffini, by clicking here. Or try Julie Hyzy’s solution—Caprese flatbread by clicking here.)

FROZEN PIZZA DOC Rx #2: Best tip of them all. Drizzle olive oil around the rim of your frozen pizza before putting it into the oven. You want to drizzle it against the inside rim of the crust (not on the crust). During the high-temperature baking, the oil will seep into the crust and help keep it moist. It adds great flavor, too!

FP DOC Rx #3: Fresh mushrooms! Add 1 cup of fresh, sliced Baby Bella mushrooms to your frozen pizza. These young Portobellos are meaty and chewy—adding texture as well as flavor. Button mushrooms are fine as another option or mix your mushrooms. Sauté in olive oil and a bit of butter before putting on your frozen pie and popping it in the oven.

FP DOC Rx #4: Jimmy Dean Sausage. What?! Not Italian sausage? No. I'm not kidding here. A mild/sweet breakfast sausage is delicious on pizza! Break up about 1/3rd of the 1 pound package with your fingers into a pan on the stovetop; cook it through completely and drain the fat before spreading over the frozen pizza. You’d be surprised how many people assume that the sausage should be put on the pie raw. Not a good idea! Even if the raw sausage does cook through (and it probably won’t, given pizza’s quick bake time), you’ll end up with a lot of grease. So cook, drain, top, bake, and enjoy!
FP DOC Rx #5: Freshly shredded mozzarella cheese and leaves of fresh green basil. Just spread them on the top and bake. The floral fragrance of the basil cooking is really lovely. It brightens and enlivens a frozen pizza and takes no time at all.

Finally, I’d like to learn about your favorite pizza toppings. According to industry sources gathered by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, here are some favorites from around our planet…

Australia: shrimp and pineapple, BBQ
Brazil: green peas
Costa Rica: coconut
France: a combo called “Flambe” with bacon, onion, and fresh cream
Japan: squid and eel
India: chicken tikka, Tandoori chicken, pickled ginger
Netherlands: “double dutch” double cheese, double onions, double beef
Pakistan: curry
Russia: red herring
Saudi Arabi: Hold the pork—all meat toppings must be 100% beef!


Click below to vote on what pizza
you would order if given this list.

Yes. This is my Doctored Mystic Pizza. It started out frozen in a box. We inhaled it last night. :)

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
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Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

LIAR, LIAR: Still wondering what was true and what was false in our "Creative Writer Bald-Faced Liar's Award"? Congrats to Lesa Holstine for guessing the truth! My very first lie was true. I was a cub reporter at The New York Times and I did indeed interview a group of interfaith peace activists who were taken hostage by Nicaraguan rebels. They all came home, I'm glad to report, safe and sound!

TRUTH IN FALSEHHOODS: My other two lies were based on a bit of truth, which is the best way to consturct lies, as most writers know! My sister was indeed the Community Health Director for Bethel, Alaska, and I did visit her there and meet a female musher and her dogs, but I didn't participate in the Yukon-Kuskowkim 300 Dog Sled Race (although I wanted to)!Finally, although I did attend Carnegie Mellon U., my internship was in journalism (via American U. in Washington, D.C., and not in the creation of SF film concepts). I do love SF, however, and although I didn't contribute any ideas to the original, cutting-edge movie Tron, I'm adapting the screenplay of the upcoming sequel Tron: Legacy into a junior novel for Disney Books. Click here for an awesome Light Cycle ride!


  1. Okay, first I should wait until morning to check out MLK. It's after midnight and now I'm hungry for pizza. LOL.

    Cleo you've got the right priorities for the big game - Who, commercials, game. I love the idea of using a frozen pizza and building on that. How neat. As for your truth and lies, I think you would have been a great musher had you tried.

  2. You've been in my freezer! I have a Mystic cheese pizza in there!

    This is a great idea because frequently I don't have time to start a pizza from scratch. I've added toppings to a frozen pie before, but never thought of olive oil (brilliant!) and couldn't figure out why the mushrooms I added didn't work (I hadn't sauteed them.) Great ideas!


  3. I never thought of doctoring a delivered pizza - who'da thunk? But to be fair, our local pizzas are pretty darned excellent.

    My all time favorite is Home Run Inn. Yeah, you can find the frozen brand at your grocery store, and it's very good, but there's nothing like the real thing fresh from the oven. I grew up one block away from the original Home Run Inn. It was a dinky bar back then. Now it's an empire. Unfortunately, our closest restaurant is about 45 minutes away. So I make do with others in between fixes. But, Home Run Inn's crust is the *only* pizza crust I'll eat. We have plenty of good pizza here in Chicago, but I skip the crusts on all the other brands.

    I could go on and on. Check them out sometime. Even frozen, it's an excellent buttery pizza. Oooh, I'm getting hungry now.

    I'll take sausage and mushroom, please ;-)


  4. Oh duh... I meant "doctoring a frozen pizza" -

  5. Oh, beloved pizza--one of my favorite foods! I could REALLY go for that French "flambe" topping. As for the frozen stuff, I prefer the Red Baron pizzas. They're delicioso!!

  6. I love how you've doctored a frozen pizza. Love the pizza roll! Great fun. And a cub reporter. Wow, you've done it all! I'm impressed.

  7. Pizza is a staple in our house. My kids love it when I make crust and let them do the toppings. I often put pepperoni between layers of paper towels and microwave them for about 30 seconds. That really helps cut down on the grease quotient.

  8. In a pinch, I've doctored an Amy's frozen pizza with fresh garlic and tomato. Not bad! Though I think your olive oil tip is pure genius.

  9. I'd add goat cheese and chopped fresh spinach to a regular cheese pizza.

    We used to get a pizza in the South of France that used sliced avocado and garlic as toppings -- that was pretty awesome.

  10. Mr. Wendy and I routinely (i.e. way more often than we should) buy a frozen pie and top with pre-sauted mushrooms, black olives, and a drizzle of good olive oil (though we've always put it on *after* baking ... will have to try your trick).

    We also make little pizzas on toasted English muffin bread or those wee sandwich thins (pre-toasted) -- Pastorelli's canned pizza sauce is da bomb!

    If I'm making from scratch, I love the Chicago-style crust recipe from Cooks Illustrated -- that crust, with a "moisture barrier" of sliced provolone, then sauted mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes, pesto, and a little grated parmesan ... heaven!

    I {heart} pizza!

  11. Where were you last night, Dr. Cleo?
    Hub and I had a frozen and it was not
    nearly as yummy as your fix it ideas.
    Next time, I'll consult the doc first!
    Great post! Jenn

  12. Mason, you do know that pizza is an ideal midnight snack?

    Cleo, thanks for the great tips on doctoring pizzas. I'm with Trix on Amy's pizza. Applegate Farms makes a nice pepperoni that tastes great on pizza.

    And thanks for shouting about my book! : )

    ~ Krista

  13. California Pizza Kitchen's Sicilian is a truly awesome frozen pizza. Doesn't even need any doctoring!

  14. I am loving these comments and pizza topping ideas! Thank you, everyone. Keep the comments coming. I'll check later this evening and all week.

    I'm happy to keep the poll open all week, as well, and I'll report the results next Friday.

    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  15. Actually I want them all, Cleo! This great post gives new significance to the expression Fake It 'Til You Make It. As usual, I'm starving by the time I read the latest at Mystery Lovers Kitchen. So I'm going to try pizza with pesto, grilled chicken breast slices and brie.


    And how cool to be a part of the tron legend!

  17. Our local grocers has a very good store frozen pizza and for the price and quality, its a great value. Excellent idea about the olive oil, and precooking the sausage. I will be adapting these ideas for sure.

    Our favorite toppings, pepperoni, green pepper, onion.

    My favorite when I order by myself is sundried tomato and black olive. Or...artichokes and feta cheese. Now we're talking!

  18. The pizza looks gr8t, Cleo. But, what I really want i one of those doughnut muffins in the first pic on the home page ... YUMMMMMM! ;)

  19. Smiling at all the comments! Thank you, everyone! Will check back again...the poll is looking very interesting so far -- and I'll keep it open all week!


  20. Howdy Cleo,
    I posted my comment on the poll comments, then I found this one. One of our favorites is Taco Pizza. Start with a beef/hamburger pizzs, sprinkle with taco seasoning, spread with refried beans and bake. When fresh from the oven top with grated mild cheddar cheese, shreaded lettuce, and diced tomatoes.

    Another way to make quick snacks. Individual Pizzas: Use canned buttermilk biscuts from the grogery. Pop the can,remove biscuits to single layer on a plate to warm up. Spread each biscuit as thin as possible on a cookie sheet, spread with about 1/2 teaspoon of tomato sauce, lightly salt the sauce, cover with grated mild cheddar cheese and favorite toppings. These bake at the same tempature and time as the directions for the biscuits on the can. My kids always liked making their Own Personal Pizzas.
    Catherine of Amarillo