Some days you’re a little cranky. It feels like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You’re just a little snippier than you’d like. You try to bite your tongue, grab your morning caffeine, and paste on a smile.
Other days, you feel like you woke up in Oscar the Grouch’s trash can and God help whoever has to interact with you before you get it together. You irrationally snap at the dog because she dawdles outside, you grumble about how a huge tractor trailer took up all the good parking by the gym. You stalk into the gym and realize you’re late to Zumba. That was me yesterday.
I usually love Zumba, but yesterday it was like everything came together in a perfect storm of annoyance. First, since I was late, I had to squeeze into a row in the back. I ended up wedged between an industrial-sized fan on my left and a woman on my right who, let us say, was not exactly a Zumba master (not that I’m even close). I was also right behind a woman who completely blocked my view of the instructor. I vaguely realized I should find another space, but the open spots quickly filled as a few more people floated in late. The dancing began and I decided I would have to just make the best of it.
The woman on my right, bless her heart, was always several steps behind, meaning that when it was time to travel to the right, I had nowhere to go. The fan, bless its heart, was on full-blast, freezing me to the bone no matter how frantically I danced to warm myself up. Without being able to see the instructor (or myself in the mirror), I was confused as to the steps half the time and confused about whether or not I was doing them right the other half. I’d say for 95% of the class I was just vaguely wiggling with no rhythm or reason. I usually like to dance my heart out and pretend I’m on America’s Got Talent in Zumba, but yesterday I looked more like a person who has dozed off at a picnic and woken up covered in fire ants: a lot of shivering and thrashing, with some aimless jiggling of arms thrown in for good measure.
It was nobody’s fault. The woman to my right was doing her best and had as much right to muddle through the moves as I did. The woman in front of me had no idea she was blocking my view, nor could she have moved anywhere if she had. I could’ve moved the fan, but I’d just be pointing it at some other poor, unsuspecting soul and freezing them right down to their sneakers. I wasn’t the only one that seemed to have caught the grumpy bug, either; looking around the room, half of the women seemed asleep and the other half seemed like they were dancing through thick maple syrup. My Zumba instructor — who is my favorite instructor, hands down, and who usually has a cheerful, energetic class — seemed to sense the cranky-pants vibe going on in the room, since she encouraged us repeatedly to, “Smile! Have fun with it!” only to be met with more confused, half-hearted sashaying.
It was just an unpleasant situation, we were in unpleasant moods, it was an unpleasant morning. Whiiiine.
When life gives you lemons, you could totally make lemonade. Or even lemon granita? But I’m also betting these tart, sweet, buttery little shortbread cookies will help you change your grouchy tune.
I based this recipe on my Thyme Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies, but switched out a few things. These cookies include cherries, rosemary, and lots of lemon juice. The drizzle of white chocolate at the end sweetens them up so they can sweeten your day.
One year ago: Lemon Raspberry Bars
Two years ago: Straw-Raspberry Basil Fruit Leather
Three years ago: Angelic Cherry Mousse Cloud Cake with Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Four years ago: Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes
Cherry Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 20-25 cookies
These are tender, buttery shortbread cookies replete with cherries, tangy lemon, and rosemary. Enjoy them hot from the oven and freeze some for baking in a pinch.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves, chopped finely
3/8 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about the zest from one lemon)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
about 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and dried rosemary. In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter, lemon zest, and powdered sugar 2-3 minutes or until pale, light, and fluffy. Mix in the lemon juice. Beat in the flour mixture and then stir in the cherries by hand to be sure everything is combined.
Use a sheet of wax paper to roll the dough into a 1 1/2-inch wide log (if you’re having trouble, chill the dough for a bit in the fridge before rolling it). Wrap plastic wrap or foil around the logs and freeze them until firm (you can also double-wrap them and leave them frozen for up to 3 weeks at this point. When you’re ready to bake, just use a serrated knife to cut the cookies and bake as usual. It make take a few minutes longer since they’ll be baking from frozen, but just keep an eye on them.) While they cookies are freezing, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the center. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Use a serrated knife to slice each log into 1/4-inch slices and place these about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 8-10 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for a couple of minutes on the pan before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. In the meantime, melt white chocolate according to package instructions (usually half-power, in small increments, stirring often) and spoon it into a plastic zip-top bag with a tiny corner cut off. Set cookies on wax or parchment paper and squeeze the melted chocolate from the zip-top bag over them in a zig zag design. Let them dry. Store them in an airtight container separated by leaves of parchment or wax paper for up to a week.