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Pork

Pork Carnitas

September 17, 2019

 

If there was an award give to a food for the least amount of work for the most amount of bang, it would have to be these pork carnitas.

With about 15 minutes of prep time in the morning, you can literally feed a crow with all the delicious flavors of street tacos. The flavors are built up by the citrus, garlic, and spices and then linger low and slow for a while in the crockpot. All the fattiness from the meat gets cut by toppings like pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese.

I love to make these on sports Saturdays when we are running around to different fields but really want to come home and relax. With bigger kids, my favorite slow cooking on Saturday evenings, sipping wine is not a reality. I’m not complaining though because football under the lights with popcorn is a pretty cool family event and the games are so exciting to watch! I still want to eat yummy food when I come home though of course.

Enter festive crock pot dinners. I throw these flavors into a crock pot – the spices I combine in a small bowl and then sprinkle over the whole pork shoulder. If you want a leaner cut of meat use the boneless pork shoulder blade roast, but I usually use the pork shoulder picnic.

Also don’t mind my dented crock pot. I have no idea how it got dented but I blame kids.

It’s important to keep turning the roast as it cooks so the flavors are easily distributed.

When it’s done, you shred the meat (which goes very quickly since it’s SO tender) and lay it on a baking sheet. Then you turn on your broiler, and let it brown up for 5-10 minutes, watching closely. Then I like to channel my inner food truck owner and lay out all the fixings.

Everyone can make their own taco with their favorite toppings (read: picky eaters are happy). This is a great meal to share so invite some friends over and throw some cold drinks on ice. A perfect and easy Saturday night meal.

 

 

Hope you and your crew get to try these soon! They’re so so good.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:

2 onions, sliced

3-4 lb. pork shoulder picnic or 2-3 pound boneless pork shoulder roast

3 T salt

1 t. pepper

2 bay leaves

1 T cumin

1 T oregano

1 T chili powder

1 t. cinnamon

6 garlic cloves

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 limes

Directions:

Place sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker set to high.

Place pork on top of onions. Combine all spices in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the pork. Add chopped garlic, juice of orange and lime.

Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10.

Pork Posole

August 29, 2019

We are back in the swing of the school year, and I’ve been scouring my cookbooks and the internet to find new dinner ideas. My criteria has been dishes that are easy, delicious and feed a crowd. And I guess I’ve also been looking for things that are a little different, something we’ve never tasted before.

This Pork Posole checks all the boxes. When you find a dish that has SO much flavor, and is so simple and easy, and is a little bit different than anything you’ve had before, you have to share it. The amazing flavor comes from three things: the salsa verde…

the hominy…it was a little hard to find for me so I bought six cans from Amazon and I am very excited to have the makings for more posole in my pantry. Amazon Prime for lyfe. (Seriously, what did moms of little kids do before it existed?)

…and the addition of 3 cups of tortilla chips at the end. It sounds so weird but then you realize that the corn chips dissolve and when they do, they thicken this dish and add salt and fat that makes you crave more. It’s loaded with veggies that help to balance this decadence though, right?

I was a little worried that the fresh poblano pepper would make it too spicy, but my normally picky nine year old loved this dish along with my big kids.

My six year old did not love it though and ate what we always serve the kids who think something is too spicy: a cheese roll up. This is the name we give a tortilla sprinkled with shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese, rolled up and microwaved for 30 seconds with some avocado. (Just looking out for you mommas out there.)This dish has got to be one of the best bowls of stew/soup I’ve ever had. I’ve seen a lot of posole recipes around using chicken instead, and you could easily swap the pork for the chicken here. But the pork was so flavorful and satisfying I highly recommend trying it. There are a lot of crock pot versions too, but I think sautéing the veggies adds so much flavor and once you’ve done that you might as well just let it simmer on the stove for 30 minutes.The salsa verde and the lime make this taste so fresh, but at its heart this is comfort food and perfect for fall. I hope you get to try it and fall in love with it like we did. 

Happy Eating,

xoxo Katie

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 1/2 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, 1/2-inch diced

2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

1/3 cup small-diced poblano pepper

2 Holland yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and 3/4-inch diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade, simmering

1 (12-ounce) jar medium salsa verde

2 (15-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups yellow corn tortilla chips, plus extra for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lime wedges, sliced or diced avocado, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, grated Cheddar, and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (11-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium-high heat. Add the pork and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the pork and any liquid to a bowl and set aside. (Don’t worry about crowding the pan here). Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot, add the onions, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the poblano and bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook for one minute. Return the pork and its juices to the pot.
  2. Add the chicken stock and salsa verde and bring to a simmer. Stir in the hominy, black beans, corn chips, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock and the chips.
  3. To serve, ladle the posole into large soup bowls. Garnish with a squeeze of lime and top with avocado, scallions, radishes, tortilla chips, Cheddar, and sour cream. Serve hot.

Recipe from Ina Garten can be found here on Foodnetwork.com

Italian Stuffed Cabbages

August 31, 2017

Need a new recipe for your back to school repertoire?

This recipe had called to me ever since I saw it on SmittenKitchen this summer. And as most of you know, we’ve been a little busy growing humans at our house. Just standing on my feet for very long in the kitchen is hard, and my cooking dreams have been curtailed by a lack of appetite, energy, and plenty of food aversions.

But I finally got inspired to make this thanks to the cabbages my daughter planted (i.e. took cabbage plants home from school and as they were wilting on our window sill in June, decided to stick them in the garden). I had to do something special with these beauties, right? (By the way, I am guessing the chances you have a head of cabbage just siting in your backyard are very low. We don’t normally have them either, and I am not even sure what kind of cabbage it is, but thanks school!)

Rest easy that the recipe calls for savoy cabbage leaves, which you can find at most grocery stores and I think would be even better, since the leaves are softer and easier for kids to bite through. I didn’t mind these at all and think you could use any cabbage leaves, but my youngest didn’t like the how thick and hearty these were, but they loved the insides. I was glad I made extra since the leftovers seemed to get better the next day.

The recipe calls for sweet pork sausages, and even though Smitten Kitchen says she omitted the fresh herbs and still loved them, I had them on my deck so I used them and I felt like they really added to the dish.

Assembly is super easy, and I love her suggestion of wrapping them with a toothpick (you can roll them like egg rolls too).

And the best thing about this dish is the very simple, pure tomato sauce. I ended up doubling it after this photo was taken because I had doubled the cabbages and I suspected the cabbage-bite-to-tomato-sauce ratio was important. (Turns out I was right).

So if you find yourself looking for a new dinner to add to your school night rotation, this one is a keeper. I served them with mashed potatoes (see the yummy recipe for some below) but rice, pasta, or polenta all seem like great sides to soak up the garlic-tomato sauce.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Italian Stuffed Cabbages – (printer version here):

Makes approximately 12 cabbage rolls; a serving can range from 2 (petitely) to 3 per person. Serve with mashed potatoes (Deb at SmittenKitchen recommends these.

1 large savoy cabbage
7-ounce (200-gram) hunk of bread (see above), crusts cut away, torn into small scraps (you’ll have about 3 loose cups of scraps)
2/3 cup (approximately 150 ml) whole milk
14 ounces (400 grams) or approximately 4 plain pork sausages (I used sweet — i.e. non-spicy — Italian), casings removed
1 small sprig of sage, finely chopped
1 small sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

Prepare cabbage: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Discard any messy or broken outer cabbage leaves and carefully peel 12 nice, large leaves. (I think the cabbage can tell if you’re in a rush, and will tear more easily. Work carefully. That said, a torn leaf will hardly ruin the dish.) Blanch leaves for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (you can do a few at at time), until wilted, and spread out on towels so that they dry and cool.

Make filling: Place bread scraps in bottom of large bowl and pour milk over. Let sit for a few minutes, then mash it gently with a spoon until something close to a paste forms. Mix with sausage meat, herbs, parmesan and a pinch or two of salt and black pepper; I find this easiest with a fork or bare hands.

Make the cabbage rolls: Lay your first cabbage leaf on the counter. If it doesn’t want to lay flat, pare away some of the thickest stalk (with a paring knife or vegetable peeler) to make it easier. Form some of the filling mixture into a golf ball-sized round. Wrap cabbage leaf around it (see Note about shape up top) and pin at the top with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining leaves and mixture.

Make the sauce: To prepare your tomatoes, either break them up with your hands (for bigger chunks), run them through a food mill or roughly chop them right in their can with scissors (what I did here). In a heavy saute pan with a lid or a medium (5 to 6-quart) Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds (just until golden, not a moment longer) then add the tomatoes, bringing the sauce to a gently boil. Season with salt if needed. Add cabbage packages, arranging them carefully in the pan so they all fit, cover the pot and gently simmer them for 25 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and carefully turn the rolls over, cooking them for another 25. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes to cook off some of the wetness. They’re all cooked now, but if you can rest them for another 15 minutes before eating them, the flavors settle and they become even better.

Recipe originally found on smittenkitchen.com

 

A Southern Dinner

February 26, 2017

(Hi Food Lovers – just a note to say as I completed my edits for my book I got behind on everything, including blogging here. I am attempting to make it up to you with not just one recipe, but a whole meal. These recipes are truly all new favorites on our rotation, and it feels so good to be back sharing a love of food with you here.) 

It’s hard to step your baby toe into a love of food without feeling the effects of Southern Cuisine on America. Southern Cooking has become synonymous with cooking with soul, or love, or heart, or something approximating all three. But you don’t need to get philosophical to know that southern food just tastes good. With its mixture of rich fatty meat, an ample supply of butter and cheese, and tangy, vinegary liquids, most of which have been cooked long and slow, its hard not to end up with something that will make your belly and your soul very happy.

So when my southern friend Christy sent me her recipe for Collard Greens around New Years, followed up with some lovely gifts and priceless staples like grits and seasoning they use in their kitchen to achieve that authentic flavor, I knew I wanted to see if my Northern Kitchen could make those flavors appear.

Turns out, it can. I thought I’d use some of these gifts for a whole southern meal, complete with a rib recipe that we’ve been loving. The result was amazing fall-apart ribs, collard greens that were so flavorful, they tasted like they were from a restaurant in the south, and baked cheddar grits that were so good they’ll make your toes curl. Or at least make you want to curl up for a nap. All of these make up such quintessential comfort food, it’s no wonder it’s called soul food.

So let’s start with the my favorite:

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Collard Greens à la Christy

 

This recipe has a short cut that I highly recommend: buy the seasoning packet from Uncle Wiley’s which my friend sent me. Whatever kind of magic is in there, it sure makes for some delicious greens. If you don’t want to bother, just play around with your garlic powder, salt and pepper until it tastes seasoned. The salt pork adds some salt too so go easy at the start of it simmering.

This recipe delivers you a huge pot of good for you greens, plus a whole bunch of broth that I sipped for the next three days and just made me feel amazing. I was writing a lot that week, and I would get so excited when I brought up a hot, salty mug to sip while I worked. Christy said it’s called “pot likker” and all I know is its pretty life affirming. Or at least during editing season. I found my collard greens at my local store so hope yours carries it too.

Collard Greens à la Christy (printer version here):

When I got the photo of the recipe, it was officially titled “Collards and Peas” which just sounds like a great dish, doesn’t it? She said her husband traditionally makes the peas separate from the collards by boiling them in a little chicken broth, which is what I did. Then you just serve it together. But here is the cast of characters:

“Collards and Peas” 

3/4 container of peas, soaked overnight, then cooked in chicken broth (can use frozen)

1/2 an onion

3 bunches collards, sliced

1 salted pork pack (I had a large package and just used a slice that was about one inch thick and it was just right)

garlic, salt and pepper (or use Uncle Wiley’s seasoning packet)

3 stalks celery (I sliced them and loved them, but you don’t have to if you want to just use it for flavor)

dollop of chicken bullion

Optional: add a splash of malt vinegar at the end.

Directions:

Trim collards from stems which are bitter. Then chop them up and place them in a huge pot of water. Add pork, onion, spices, and a huge dollop of chicken bullion. There is no right or wrong ratio for the peas and collards, essentially just throw everything into a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer until leaves are tender. You can also served with black-eyed peas and diced tomato. 

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Oven-To-Grill-Ribs

So you’re going to want to pin this recipe too.

I don’t know about you, but after having eaten great ribs from friends and restaurants, I was sort of in the camp that I would let them make them and I’ll happily eat them.

But then I found this recipe from Chef Charlie McKenna in Better Homes & Gardens, who has some deep southern roots and an award winning BBQ restaurant in Chicago. He made ribs seem…doable. So when my daughter asked for ribs for her birthday a while ago, I tried them, and they were SO easy and SO good: falling of the bone, smokey, juicy, and well-seasoned.

The secret is you flavor them up with mustard and the rub, then cook them low for 2 hours, sealed in a tin foil envelope, so they stay really juicy. Then flash grill them for 10 minutes with BBQ sauce. The rub mixture makes enough for 3-4 rack of ribs, and I store mine in a tightly sealed jar. And I have made my own sauce, but in a pinch, I have used a good jar too.

I love that you can cook these all year round if you use an indoor grill pan. One rack of ribs feeds our family very comfortably.

Oven-to-Grill Ribs (printer version here):

Ingredients

  • 13 1/2 pound rack pork loin back ribs
  • 1/4cup yellow mustard
  • 1cup BBQ Rub
  • 1/2cup BBQ Sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With a pastry brush, spread the mustard all over both sides of the ribs. Generously sprinkle the rub all over both sides of the ribs.
  2. Place ribs in the middle of a double thickness of heavy foil cut 6 inches longer than the ribs. Wrap ribs in the foil. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender (the two middle bones of the rack should start to pull apart easily).
  3. Remove ribs to a tray (discard liquid in foil packet). Spread the sauce all over both sides of the ribs. Grill on the rack of a covered grill directly over medium heat for 15 minutes, brushing with additional sauce every 5 minutes, turning once. Adjust heat as necessary to prevent burning.

BBQ Rub

Directions

  1.  Place celery seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Mix together with remaining ingredients. Store leftovers in a dry, cool place.

BBQ Sauce

Directions

  1.  Whisk all ingredients together in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill up to 2 weeks.

Recipe originally printed in Better Homes and Gardens.

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Baked Cheesy Grits

Normally I test totally new recipes like this, but turns out Baked Grits are very easy and with the help of butter and cheese turn out delicious no matter what you do. (Ok, scorching the bottom of pan might not work). I merged a number of recipes online, which were all very similar, keeping notes as I went, and they turned out just the way I was hoping. Maybe it was the authentic grits sent from Georgia? Now my mind is dreaming about fried polenta.

Baked Cheesy Grits (printer version here):

5 cups chicken broth

1 1/4 cups grits, rinsed

4T.  Butter

1/2 t. garlic salt

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 cup (4 oz) sharp cheddar, divided

1 cup (4 oz) monterey jack

1/2 cup milk

3 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bring chicken broth just to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in butter and grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until grits are done. Remove from heat.
  2. Add seasoning, milk, half the cheddar cheese and all of the monteray jack cheese. Stir until completely combined and cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning, adjusting if needed. Add eggs and combine well. Pour into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining half cup of cheddar cheese.
  3. Bake, covered, at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until mixture is set. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

I hope you take a trip to the South via your taste buds and try these out! They are delicious and memorable, and with friends like Christy, definitely Soul Food.

xoxo, Katie

Maple Balsamic Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Fall Veggies

September 28, 2016

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Dear Fall,  Even though your gorgeous weather means we are all outside for sports every afternoon, and my slow and easy dinner time is gone, you are still my favorite season. And I am determined to enjoy your flavors and bounty even in this super busy time. That’s why I see a whole lot of sheet pan dinners with fall produce in our future.

imageJust one walk around my grocery store’s ‘locally grown’ section yielded me these beauties. Of course I wanted to be creative and come up with complicated recipes, but if you have seen the Pioneer Woman’s idea of sheet pan dinners, then you know how easy and quick they are. And it was completely delicious. So I am just sharing the good news to all you other busy mommas and food lovers out there.

I love how delicata squash lives up to it’s name with it’s delicate, lacy semi-circles. I posted about them here, and you could easily add brussels sprouts to this dish or another favorite fall veggie like acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots, or parsnips. Sheet pan suppers are lovely in their flexibility. (Note: Don’t forget to use cooking spray like I did or it might require extra elbow grease to pull off the veggies. And you may need 2 sheet pans so the veggies don’t get too crowded and steam instead of roast.)

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No matter which veggies you use, the key is to provide flavor. I combined 3 T. balsamic, 3 T. maple syrup and 3 T. olive oil + salt and pepper and tossed 2/3rds of it with the veggies (reserve remaining 1/3 for the pork). Other flavors you could try are garlic, Dijion mustard, or thyme since they all go well with pork.

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I chose rosemary because it goes so well with balsamic, and tossed it with the veggies too. (You could add it to the mixture if you want).  Then I coated the pork in the remaining 1/3 of mixture and a bit of the rosemary.

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If you are feeding more than 4 adults you may want to double this recipe. It is so good we devoured it. The veggies taste like candy, and the balsamic and rosemary add so much flavor. If you have little eaters you could serve it with egg noodles too.

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Hope you and your fam enjoy this easy fall dinner!

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

 

Maple Balsamic Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Fall Veggies (printer version here): 

Serves 4

1 pork tenderloin

2 apples

1 large onion

1 delicata squash

2 T. rosemary, finely chopped

3 T. maple syrup

3 T. balsalmic

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 t. salt

½ t. pepper

 

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 425.

 

Cut up veggies (for apples and delicata, core and cut lengthwise, then in semi-circles, for onions and sweet potatos cut in wedges or thick semi-circles, roughly the same size so they cook evenly). Spread evenly on a baking sheet (foil optional for easy clean up) and coat with cooking spray. Whisk together the liquid ingredients, and add 2 t. salt and ½ t. Pepper. Toss veggies with ⅔ mixture along with rosemary. Lay pork tenderloin that has been seasoned with salt and pepper in center of pan, and coat both sides with mixture, sprinkling with remaining rosemary. Note: If veggies are crowded, use a second sheet pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are tender. Return pork to oven alone for another 5-10 minutes, until it reaches 145 degrees and is no longer pink in the middle. Let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Easy Delicious Pork Lasagna

September 15, 2016

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I was tempted to title this post ‘Lasagna so easy a kid can make it’ because:

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I love cooking with my kids, so when I was playing around with this recipe, which was trying to be a twist on a pork ragu in a lasagna (minus the wine because, kids) I asked Lucy to help me layer it.

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This girl loves cooking, and craves any opportunity to stir a pot or stretch out some dough (licking a spatula with batter on it is her favorite, of course.)

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Sometimes I feel like Lasagna can be a bit labor intensive. But I realized as I poured over some of my favorite cookbooks that they often try to have you make your own sauce with tomato sauce and canned tomatoes and oregano.Which is totally fine! Of course, making your own sauce is wonderful.

But when it is a Tuesday night and you have a jarred sauce that you love more than the canned tomato-tomato sauce routine, I appreciate saving the extra 3 steps and 10 minutes.

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The pork adds such a nice flavor and texture, almost like velvet. And the fresh spinach is so, so good in here.

I also love finding helpers to help me with the labor part.

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(If your kids have ever made pizza, they’ll be a pro at this final step.)

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I also love how there are always leftovers of lasagna. It’s like a 2-for-1 dinner special. And the kids love to eat leftovers if it tastes this gooey and delicious.

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So I hope you will try a night where you get all of the ingredients ready, and let your kids go to town.

Happy Weeknight Eating! xoxo Katie

Pork Lasagna Recipe (printer version here): 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

1 large zucchini, diced

4 cups fresh spinach

5 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pounds ground pork

1 32 oz. jar of good quality tomato sauce (I like Rao’s)

12 no-boil lasagna noodles

2 cups ricotta cheese

1 cup pre-grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)

2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until hot then stir in the onion, carrot, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in the pork, breaking up the lumps of pork with a spatula and cook, until browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in the jarred sauce and heat through. Add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Meanwhile, in a seperate bowl, combine the ricotta, parm, and parsley. Stir to combine.

In a 3-to 3 1/2-quart lasagna dish spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom. Place 3 lasagna noodles evenly over the sauce, leaving even space between the noodles. Top the noodle layer evenly with a layer of sauce, then place another 3 noodles on top. Spread an even layer of sauce over the noodles, then dollop half the ricotta mixture and half the mozzarella. Top with another layer of 3 noodles, then sauce, then the remaining 3 noodles and sauce. Dollop with the remaining ricotta mixture and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. 

Bake until the filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes. (If it starts to brown too quickly cover with tin foil).  Let the lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving.