Tuesday, April 29, 2014

EZ Pineapple Cupcakes

I recently became intrigued at a poked pineapple cake recipe that I saw in a coupon ad. I found the online version, but only after I ran across a no-poke recipe that attracted me for its simplicity.

In the past, I've looked at pineapple upside-down cake recipes, and can't seem to muster the enthusiasm to make one. Holey moley! Both Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines have recipes that, to me, are mind-numbing for numbers of ingredients. As for maraschino cherries inside the pineapple rings, I'll save those ingredients for the ham that I picked up for Easter and still haven't baked yet. (Sell-by date has another 1 1/2 weeks.)

Back to the Dole recipe, I thought the number of ingredients and process looked way more complicated than what I wanted to try. Making a cake with pineapple in it interested me, along with making handy individual smaller sizes instead of using a bundt pan. It took a good while to find the "Pineapple Poke Bundt Cake" recipe on the web. Without Googling the exact title, I was unable to find the exact recipe. Even searching Dole's website didn't yield the recipe.

The upside in expending the effort to find the pineapple poke cake recipe was finding food.com's "Frosted Pineapple Cake". The cake part calls for only five ingredients—flour, sugar, eggs, crushed pineapple, and baking soda. As usual, when I see a recipe, I assess the ingredients and process. As the poke recipe included vanilla bean, I figured the scratch recipe might be ok with adding vanilla extract.

I further deviated from the scratch recipe as follows:
  1. Measured the pineapple juice for curiosity's sake (3/4 cup, the same amount for the poke cake recipe).
  2. Stirred the dry ingredients in a plastic measuring bowl.
  3. Stirred the wet ingredients in a different measuring bowl. (Added 1 teaspoonful of vanilla. As the poke recipe calls for vanilla bean, good enough use vanilla extract in the scratch recipe.)
  4. Stirred the wet ingredients into the plastic bowl.
  5. Noted the batter measurement (5 cups).
  6. Poured the batter into the 24 spray-oiled cupcake pan wells, baking at 350° for about 20 minutes instead of 9 x 13 pan for 40-45 minutes.
  7. Skipped the frosting.
My pixstrip shows eight image areas:
  1. Implements (Your preferences might vary.)
  2. Ingredients
    • Dry, with plastic bowl
    • Wet, with glass bowl, and spray oil
  3. Batter in plastic bowl
  4. Batter in cupcake pans
  5. Baked cupcakes on cooling rack
  6. Baked cupcakes detached from pans and flipped onto cooling rack.
    Note: For extracting the cakes, I used a plastic knife to gently cut around the cakes and nudge at the bottoms.
  7. Baked cupcakes in cake taker.
  • Dry
    • 2 C flour
    • 2 C granulated sugar
    • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Wet
    • 1 20-oz can crushed pineapple, all of it
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
  • spray oil (Next time, I might try also shaking some flour into pans after I spray oil and see if the cakes detach a little more easily.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Pour the dry ingredients into the plastic bowl, using a wire whip. (I used a flat one.)
  3. Mix the wet ingredients in the other bowl.
  4. Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the plastic bowl and stir the ingredients until they're moistened.
  5. Pour and evenly distribute the batter into the 24 spray-oiled cupcake wells. (I pushed my luck by pouring the batter to almost the top instead of the usual 2/3 to 3/4 full.)
  6. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly browned. (Use toothpick test for doneness if desired.)
  7. Transfer the baked cupcakes onto cooling rack.
Post-Recipe Thoughts

The recipe makes more of a quick bread than typical cake mix cake. Thus, I used a wire whip to gently but thoroughly mix rather than use a hand mixer and beat the ingredients. The cupcakes' texture seemed denser than regular cupcakes—weighing about 2 ounces each, a little less airy than regular cake, only slightly chewier than a muffin, and not crumbly. The cakes were not crumbly. I put them into cupcake papers for neat handling.

The cupcakes are low fat and low sodium, but extremely high in carbs—lots of sugar, pineapple, and flour. Each is about 125 calories, way less than if you add frosting. Yummy taste and texture; seems like adding frosting would be loading even more sugar and also adding more work.

October 31, 2015 (update)
If you want to use a cake mix method for pineapple cupcakes, visit "Simply Simple Pineapple Cupcakes". An update to ingredients: In researching for that blog article, I saw a scratch-ingredients recipe where 1 1/2 cup of sugar is ok to use. Though 400 calorie savings per batch makes sounds impressive, it translates to only about saving 17 calories per cupcake.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Revisiting Tagging Your LinkedIn(r) Connections

Note (5/30/2014): I just now noticed that LinkedIn changed the menu from Network > Contacts to Connections  > Keep in Touch.

My revisit is for providing updated LinkedIn® tagging instructions that differs from my previous blog article from a couple of years ago. A practical use for tagging is grouping your LinkedIn connections by interests—co-workers, former co-workers, professions besides yours, professional organizations, .... Why would groups be practical? How about grouping real estate people, recruiters, special interest groups, people that you want to send a group email, etc.?

My recent revisit to tagging resulted from my wanting to group people that I wanted to send a mass email to. LI had a maximum of 50 LinkedIn connection recipients. I have over 100 recipients of a particular interest, so I needed to break the group up into three separate groups with different names.
The overall process is as follows:
  1. Create an overall group theme. (I created one for my profession.)
  2. Review your connections, tagging candidates with the group name.
  3. Open the group list. Review for completeness.
  4. Create another group name, this time tightening criteria for purpose.(For my purpose, I tagged for excluding out-of-area connections and those who were inactive in the profession the previous year. In some cases, I inferred the status from profiles.)
  5. Copy the names (as text) to a word processor and sort alphabetically. (After I alphabetically sorted, I inserted column breaks to group logically—A through D, etc, keeping the groups around 45 connections, give or take a few.)
  6. Tile your list next to the LinkedIn interface. Create enough tag names that will include all the prospective email recipients. Example: [some tag subgroupname]-1, [some tag subgroupname]-2, etc.
  7. Tag the connections with the the appropriate group or subgroup tag name.
  8. For each of the group or subgroup, open a tagged-members window by filtering for the appropriate tag name.
  9. Click Select All for displaying the Message link.
  10. Click the Message link for opening the compose window.
  11. Compose your email. If you have a draft already, you can copy and paste the subject line and contents into the email interface.
  12. Send the email.
The PDF file of the step-by-step procedure, including screen captures, is downloadable at https://app.box.com/s/ju04h698elb8j5dc0m0.
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