Among Friends Hand-crafted Baking Mixes began over long walks and cups of coffee. Pals Lizann Anderson and Suzie Miller, then both in Ann Arbor, chatted about their lives, their kids and an idea: Making wholesome baking easier for families.
Their dream is now nine delicious years old. But their baking mixes are still driven by a key ingredient: their six children, today 16-21.
“Kids don’t read labels; they use their taste buds to figure out what they like,” says Anderson, whose son Shane, now 19, was a pro at noticing any hint of whole grains. But it was Miller’s irresistible oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that proved the spark. “There’s gotta be a way to make it healthier,” Anderson thought.
They teamed up to tweak the recipe, adding whole grains and plenty of input from their kids. Soon, Among Friends was born in one friend’s garage in 2006. It was a hit: Today, they have a 10,000-square-foot facility in Ann Arbor.
“All of our mixes are whole grain, gluten free and dairy free,” says Suzie, who now lives in Toledo. “Our belief is that our mixes can be used by anyone. They’re delicious.”
Their holiday tips? “My appetizers are always healthy,” says Anderson. “I offer huge piles of grapes and apples – something to whet their appetite rather than dull it.” And for dessert, try this pie.
- 1 package Shane’s Molasses Ginger Cookie Mix
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 5 Tbsp. butter
- 2 (8 oz.) packages reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground ginger
- Pinch ground cloves
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Whipped cream (optional, to top)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8-inch pie pan. Prepare mix as directed and halve dough. Roll dough between wax paper until 1/8-inch thick. Place in glass pie pan, press lightly and prick dough with fork. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes or until crust is browned. Cool completely. Note: You’ll only use half of the mix. Save the remaining part to make another pie or roll it out and make cookies.
As long as cream cheese is very soft, blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into cooled pie crust, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. Best overnight. Note: Filling adapted from AllRecipes.com.
More about Among Friends Hand-crafted Baking Mixes
This Ann Arbor-based company offers eight healthier dessert starters, from cakes to cookies to crisps. Each 11.9-ounce bag is $5.99. Buy at area retailers like Target, Kroger and Meijer on online.