This past week was my last week of school.
The end of the school year always surprises me. Dates that I’ve been tossing around all year spring up and suddenly finals are upon us. Once final exams are over, there’s one last mad dash to grade everything and then… the last day of school arrives!
There’s always confusion about dress code on the last day of school; ties and belts and shoes are the wrong colors or missing altogether. Students shuffle in, anxious to get their last final exam out of the way, and there’s an excited buzz in the cafeteria that morning.
Once the final exam block ends, our school has an award ceremony. Student growth and achievement are celebrated, and it is during this time that we give out our biggest award of the year. I love seeing how excited students get about their awards. After the ceremony, we have a carnival for the entire high school outside! Students get to soak teachers in the dunk tank; eat cotton candy; shaved ice and burgers; jump in the bouncy house; dance with their friends. Then, all of sudden, they are dismissed.
Most students rush out the door, but there’s always a few who linger to wish teachers well or to inquire if their finals have been graded. Once final hugs and goodbyes are had, only the teachers remain. And just like that, summer begins!
This summer will be my second “teacher summer,” and I’ve been inspired to live it fully by a veteran teacher who I heard speak last summer at a history seminar. She shared that, in the summer, she lives by her alter ego and does all of the the things that her school year self cannot. She says “yes” to all of the events that she is invited to, something that she cannot afford to do during the school year, and she goes out of her way to pursue adventure. I love this outlook! And I am planning on fully embracing it for myself.
One way that I am pursuing adventure this summer is by trying and learning about new foods. Today I made a layered cake, caramel sauce, and frosting from scratch (for the first time!). In addition to taking on more baking adventures, I also want to try making more foods that I love from scratch, like pasta and xiaolongbao. This week, I am living into this outlook is by participating in #paletaweek!
Two weeks ago, I bought a stalk of rhubarb at the farmer’s market because seeing all of the rhubarb pies on my instagram feed was making me crazy. I had never tried rhubarb before and I intended to change that. But these past two weeks were the final days of the school year, and they were crazy busy.
So this week when I got home from work, after a long afternoon of packing up in our hot AC-less school building, I had time to think about that sole rhubarb stalk sitting in the dark recesses of my fridge. I found that it was only a little sad looking, so I unceremoniously cut it up and sautéed it with butter and sugar. I was immediately charmed by its tart flavor! Because popsicles were on my mind and it was a balmy day, I thought to combine it with yogurt and freeze it for some quick popsicles. The next day, I had my yogurt rhubarb paleta for breakfast, and one bite in, determined that the recipe was a keeper!
This recipe is a combination of something very familiar to me, paletas, Mexican popsicles, and something entirely new to me- rhubarb! The first time I made these popsicles, I used regular plain ol’ yogurt and milk and they turned out just as delicious as the recipe I am sharing below. This time around I wanted to make them vegan, so I used coconut and almond dairy instead. The paletas turned out creamy but also light! Although the recipe calls for coconut yogurt and almond milk, you can very easily substitute those ingredients for non-vegan dairy if you so desire.
Notes: I reserved some rhubarb pieces to decorate the paletas on the top and bottom and I also processed some of the rhubarb compote into a rhubarb sauce with a thin, jam like, consistency, to create the darker layer you see in the middle of these paletas. The recipe below includes steps on how to replicate the layers if you are interested. If you do not want to replicate the layers, simply blend all of the rhubarb compote with the yogurt and milk. Also, I had a hard time distinguishing between the two rhubarb “sauces” in the recipe below. Therefore, I’ve named the darker, jam-like layer the “rhubarb sauce,” and the lighter, yogurt layer the “rhubarb-yogurt” sauce. Enjoy!
Yields: 36 oz, or 12 popsicles
Total Time: ~3 hours
Prep Time: 10 minutes
- 1 lb of rhubarb (for me about 5 thick stalks)
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup of water
- 2 cups of yogurt
- 1 cup of milk
- 12 popsicle sticks
- 12 plastic cups, 3 oz
- Rhubarb Compote: Wash and cut rhubarb into small pieces. In a medium size pan, cook rhubarb on medium heat with ½ cup of water and sugars for 3-4 mins or until bubbling. Try the rhubarb and adjust sugar to taste.
- Rhubarb Sauce: Reserve ½ cup of rhubarb compote and process into a uniform rhubarb sauce in blender or food processor. Set smooth rhubarb sauce aside for the darker mid popsicle layer.
- Popsicles: Add remaining rhubarb compote, yogurt and milk to blender and process until smooth.Taste and add more sugar if desired.
- Assembly: Fill bottom half of cup with lighter rhubarb-yogurt sauce. Freeze the first layer for 30 minutes.
- Freeze: When rhubarb-yogurt sauce has set, remove from freezer. Add rhubarb sauce on top of first layer. Tap cups gently to spread sauce and ensure that you get a uniform layer of rhubarb sauce for a full layered across the paleta. Clean any smudges from sides of cups. Freeze for 10 minutes.
- Freeze: After ten minutes add yogurt rhubarb sauce on top of the rhubarb sauce layer. Then, freeze for one hour.
- Popsicle Sticks: After an hour, remove popsicles from freezer. Gently insert popsicle sticks into center of cup. Make sure that popsicle is frozen enough to hold the popsicle stick in place.
- Freeze: Freeze for at least three hours or until set!