I recently had the chance to talk with Food Network's "Supermarket Stakeout" star Alex Guarnaschelli about how to stay busy in the kitchen while stuck at home, easy recipes for Mother's Day and the future of the restaurant industry. 

If you're looking for simple and easy recipes for Mother's Day, Guarnaschelli talks about three dishes using Hood Cottage Cheese. Recipes for the dishes can be found below!

Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli Interview

Photo Courtesy of Hood Cottage Cheese
1. If people are looking to get creative in the kitchen while stuck at home, what are some recipes they can make using basic ingredients and classic pantry staples?

I see a lot of suggestions online like here's an easy recipe for dinner for 5 or lunch for 10 which is great because people are in groups and not everyone is used to thinking about a meal for everyone.

Start with what you have in the pantry. First thing to do is go to your pantry and take stock of what you have. A lot of people have canned beans, canned tuna, and pasta. The important thing is to target the protein that you have in your pantry. Protein, to say the least, is essential, then build from there. So, for a pasta dish ask yourself, can I add canned chickpeas, canned tuna? Can I make a sauce with canned tuna? So build around the protein.

The other really important thing. Don’t forget about flavor. Flavor helps keep us sustained and emotionally stimulated. One of the first things I do is make a bottle of vinaigrette. I don’t know if your mom did this growing up but my mother would take the bottle with the measurements, fill it with vinegar and oil and then shake. And it sounds like a silly thing but if you have a little bit of vinaigrette to drizzle on anything - from a homemade hummus with chickpeas to a pasta dish or salad - it just adds that spark of flavor that gets people excited.

2. Many people find themselves snacking while at home. What are your favorite snacks to munch on during the day?

Ok I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how not to snack, so this answer is two fold. One - there is the art of hoarding the snack, if you’ve had five already. And the other is - again I go back to the idea of protein being at the heart of any good snack. This is a question I get a lot and the number one answer is, if you have a jar of unpopped popcorn you literally have the key to the universe. You can take that popcorn, pop a small amount and take it in a sweet or savory direction so you really have some variety. You can heat up some sugar and drizzle it over fresh popped popcorn or grate some cheese scraps from the fridge and have cheesy popcorn. So my number one thing for snacks is to start with unpopped popcorn. It’s also warm and there is just something about a snack that is warm as opposed to a cold snack like a protein bar or a tangerine or apple.

Photo Courtesy of Hood Cottage Cheese

Part of what I’m doing in my partnership with Hood Cottage Cheese is a sweepstakes that starts May 11 and ends May 25. So you have 14 days to submit your idea of a favorite dish or snack on hood.com/doesthiscottage and you can receive Hood Cottage Cheese for a year and a $1,500 Visa Gift Card to use at your grocery store or delivery service. I’d want to win this contest! I’m also going to transform one of these recipes into what I’m calling a culinary masterpiece using Hood Cottage Cheese and that will be shared on my Instagram channel for everyone. As we know, cottage cheese is loaded with protein. I know I have sweets and salty, crunchy snacks. But when I look around my pantry and I ask what is going to sustain me protein-wise. So, grocery shopping with that mind - you can make lentils spaghetti, chickpea ragu with canned tomatoes and spices or canned tuna or whatever else. 

3. What are you doing to stay connected with your audience during this time?

I’m on a lot of Food Network shows where I don’t necessarily share recipes. I’m talking about what to do with gummy worms, wasabi powder and a twelve-tier container of dip on Chopped. But sharing what I’m cooking at home is a side of me that people don’t usually see.

I’ve been sharing simple ideas for people to cook at home. It’s even as simple as just a technique. It’s not just here’s my recipe for cornbread or chocolate cake, but it’s also like hey when you caramelize onions, turn the heat down. It does take a long time. And add a splash of water so they don’t get overly brown too quickly. Those cooking fundamentals or little snippets of information that are palatable enough for people to wrap their head around, I’m finding is what is resonating with my audience. I’m offering that content as my responsibility as a chef to share and educate - and to at least make cooking and making meals for you and your family easier. I think it's a complicated world out there and while you’re at home with your family and your loved ones and sharing simple food ideas is where I find myself really connecting with people. And also through charity, I’m doing some work with organizations like City Harvest and No Kid Hungry to help with the issue of hunger which is pretty pronounced.

4. How do you think the restaurant industry will change as a result of this current crisis?

I think it’s going to be a whole new world. I think it’s going to take time for public trust in places where you dine in. I think that groceries and carry-away ready-to-make meal kits - all of those extensions of classic restaurants - are going to see a surge and already have.

There will be a shift in what people do in my field. Dine-in restaurants will be the last wound to heal - it will take some time and there will be a lot more safety and sanitation introduced in an organized way. There’s going to be a lot about sharing information and building a community. We want to say great restaurants are built on great hospitality and delicious food but we also have to take safety first and mix that into a new type of restaurant. From guest safety, employee safety to food safety - all of those critical control points are going to become more elaborate. It’s also heavily contingent on the response of the community. We can do all we can but we need people to want to come. It’s like asking someone to dance and you’re alone in a gym. You need both partners to dance and that’s what makes it complex - rebuilding that trust.

5. Since Mother’s Day is coming up, can you share any recipes that are fit for the occasion?

Photo Courtesy of Hood Cottage Cheese

While I was testing these recipes for Hood, I’ve also been quarantined with my mother and she’s my toughest critic other than my daughter. Well, number is on my daughter and number two is my mother.

Around Mother’s Day there will be this interesting layer since we know we’ll all be together, which is nice. I made a loose interpretation of a tortilla espanola with eggs and potato chips - like a baked egg dish that I happen to really love and it has Hood Cottage Cheese in it. It is a simple dish but you build it with potatoes and onion which you cook in the pan until they’re all tender and they’ll smell a little like home fries on a griddle. And then you pour eggs and cottage cheese in the center and bake it, unmold it and top it with potato chips. So I made it and put it out on the counter and then my mother and daughter came in so we had a piece together and it was delicious. That isn’t even what made me the happiest about it. It’s hard to eat well these days. You don’t have a sense of time and place because your schedule is kind of weird. Something that was very therapeutic to me was the combination of eggs and cottage cheese that packed a one-two punch of protein. Then with the potato chips and roasted potatoes it was a mixture of home-y and playful, which I love.

Similar to the idea of “how to get your kids to eat veggies - well you hide them!” It felt like I was hiding something by adding all that protein when here was this luscious dish. That was really satisfying.

My mother has a big tradition of making cheese souffles on Mother’s Day - I don’t know why but we always had that. This is my substitute egg dish for Mother’s Day for something different at a time when we also need both playfulness and fun and lots of protein! So that’s going in my Mother’s Day repertoire.

Another thing I usually make for Mother’s Day since it feels like the beginning of spring, is a simple asparagus salad. I usually just buy a bunch of asparagus, trim it and pan roast for a few minutes in olive oil. If they’re big asparagus I’ll peel them. I REALLY zest a lemon, juice it and mix it with olive oil and a touch of cayenne and paprika to give it a little zing. To me, Mother’s Day means souffle and asparagus - or a potato chip egg cake and asparagus!

As far as desserts go, I haven’t gotten that far. Maybe just a blackberry tarte because things like berries and spring produce tell the story of Easter and Mother’s Day.

6. What is some advice you have for college students who are looking to extend their cooking skills beyond frozen pizza and ramen noodles? 

You know those rice kits - like southwestern rice, rice and beans, dirty rice or curried rice. I ate so much of that. I was literally like a human starch granule in college. It was only in my senior year of college where I started to go to the supermarket and say to myself, get out of the bean and rice aisle and go into the other aisle, please. And obviously, you’re limited because you only have a little burner or communal kitchen or a hot plate but I did two things to create variety for myself in later years. I would premake pasta salad and add a lot of different beans or chickpeas to the salad. I would make a simple red wine dressing with red wine vinegar, dried oregano and olive oil and toss everything together and put it in the fridge. That’s something that I would eat on and off for two to three days. That’s part of dorm life - you would have your little fridge and you could alternate between two or three things. You’re also eating homemade this way.

The other thing I made a lot of was simple Mexican-American dishes. So I would get a pound of ground meat like beef, turkey or chicken and cook it with spices like paprika or chili powder - whatever you have. Dump that over a bag of tortilla chips with melted cheese and have nachos. Or take that ground beef and fill it in tortillas with some cheese and make quesadillas or tacos. If you have a jar of salsa, a bag of shredded cheese, some meat and tortillas - you have four or five different directions you can go in. You’re getting protein but you’re also getting a lot of mischief and fun from the tortillas and cheese and it’s hard to get sick of that kind of food. It’s fun and it’s delicious. 

7. If people are looking for a new show to binge during this time, what can you tell us about “Supermarket Stakeout?” How is it different from other cooking shows? 

When we were making Supermarket Stakeout, we never realized that the supermarket would become a place where America is writing the story of a new version of a hero. It’s obviously an essential and critical business and so are all the workers. The supermarket has come to have so much more meaning. And how you use groceries has a totally new meaning because you’re not going to the grocery store on a whim or whenever you feel like it. You can’t just pop in and grab some cheese for dinner tonight. You plan and you make a list and you’re organized. It turns out that the way these chefs are coming back with the groceries and interpreting what they can put together with what they are given, is something that viewers are loving. It’s like here are all the things you can do with what you can buy and a new way of thinking about it and that’s really the premise of the show. 

It’s very binge-able. We always want to know what people are buying and why. So every time a chef comes back on the show, you’re like what did that person get? What are they thinking? Why do they have a fifty pound bag of carrots? It’s fascinating to see what people buy and why. So, that’s been really fun. 

Alex Guarnaschelli Recipes 

1. Chive Cottage Cheese Dumplings with Caramelized Onions

Photo Courtesy of Hood Cottage Cheese


These are like a hybrid between a Pierogi filling and gnocchi. The cottage cheese provides lusciousness and protein. While subtle, the cottage cheese is critically important. I love the synergy between the chive flavors of the cottage cheese with the caramelized onions and the fresh chives. Such a simple flavor in various forms in this recipe is tasty. These dumplings are wonderful as a side dish with roasted chicken, steak or even a grilled vegetable platter. They can also stand on their own as a main course or as an appetizer.

Cottage cheese is a classic cheese alternative for lasagna. You can also serve these dumplings on a bed of hot tomato sauce with fresh basil as a variation from the caramelized onions.

Ingredients for the Dumplings:

-1 pound Hood Cottage Cheese with Chive

-2 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling

-Kosher salt

-2 large eggs, lightly beaten

-Ingredients for the Onions:

-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

-4 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

-2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

-Freshly ground black pepper

-1 small bunch chives, cut into 1-inch “batons”, to equal ½ cup

-Yield: 50-56 pieces

-6-8 servings

Yield: Serves 6-8


1. Make the dumpling mix: Transfer the cottage cheese to a large bowl. Use a strainer to sift the flour in an even layer over the cottage cheese. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and pour the eggs over the flour. Use a rubber spatula (or your hands) to mix the dough just so it comes together. Do not over mix or the dumplings will be chewy. Let the mix rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

2. Cook the onions: Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. When the pan is good and hot, add the oil, the onions in an even layer and a pinch of salt. Add 1 cup water and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until the water cooks down and they become caramelized and tender when pierced with the tip of a small knife, 15-20 minutes. Add the Balsamic and cook until the vinegar reduces, 3-5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Keep warm.

3. Form and cut the dumplings: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 4 parts and roll each into a 7-8 –inch log about 2 inches in diameter. Cut each log into ½ to ¾ inch slices and gently roll each one to smooth the cut edges. Each one should look like a little, oval “gnocchi”. Arrange them in a single layer on a lightly floured baking sheet.

4. Cook the dumplings: In a large saucepan, bring 1 1/2 quarts of water to a simmer over medium heat. Season with 1 tablespoon salt. Stir so the salt dissolves. Drop half of the dumplings gently into the simmering water. Lower the heat and cook until they puff but are also fairly firm, 8-10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the water and drain on a kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

5. Finish: Drain the water from the large skillet, wipe dry, heat and add half of the butter over medium heat. Add half of the dumplings back in a single layer. Cook 2-3 minutes, letting them brown slightly, tossing in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.

6. Serve family style: Arrange half of the warm onions on the bottom of a serving platter. Spoon the dumplings over top. Cook the remaining dumplings in the rest of the butter. Spoon the other dumplings on top with the remaining onions and sprinkle with the chives.

7. Serve individually: Alternatively, divide the onions among 6-8 serving plates and spoon the dumplings on each and top with the chives.

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Churro-Flavored Doughnuts

Photo Courtesy of Hood Cottage Cheese


I love the spiced sugar on the outside of these and the luscious texture of the blueberry cottage cheese inside the doughnuts themselves. These do not require yeast and they don’t take much time to make! They also have more protein than the average doughnut due to the cottage cheese and the flavor is so tasty. You can also make them in advance, cut into the doughnuts, refrigerate for up to 6 hours and just fry when you want to eat them. Note: These do not hang around well once fried. Fry and eat!

Ingredients for the Dough:

-2 cups Hood Cottage Cheese with Blueberry

-1 large egg, lightly beaten

-1 cup milk

-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-4 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus extra for rolling

-1 cup sugar

-2 teaspoons baking powder

-2 teaspoons kosher salt

-1 quart Canola oil, for frying

-Ingredients for the Topping:

-½ cup sugar

-1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Yield: 14-16 doughnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix the cottage cheese with the egg, milk, butter and vanilla. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the cottage cheese mixture. Stir to combine. Do not over mix. Let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

3. Bake: Turn the dough onto a flat, floured surface and roll to about ¾ inch thick. Using a floured round cookie cutter or a drinking glass 2 ½ inches in diameter, cut the doughnut rounds and arrange in a single layer on a floured baking sheet. You should yield 14-16 rounds. Note: You can gently re-roll scraps to maximize dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

4. Get ready: Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed pot. Heat the oil to 350F over medium heat. Prepare a baking sheet fitted with a kitchen towel and a slotted spoon.

5. Fry: Use a slotted spoon to gently drop half of the doughnuts into the oil. Cook on the first side, 4 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them gently on the second side with the slotted spoon and cook another 3-4 minutes. Do not rush this. They may look cooked on the outside but need that full time to cook inside. Remove from the oil and lay them out on the kitchen towel to cool. Bring the oil back up to 350F and repeat with the remaining half of the doughnuts.

6. Fill the doughnuts: Fill a plastic sandwich bag with the remaining cottage cheese. Cut a hole in one corner of the bag. Use a paring knife to hollow a small hole in the side of each doughnut. Put the end of the plastic bag and inject about 2 teaspoons cottage cheese into each doughnut.

7. Roll: In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin pie spice. Roll the doughnuts in the sugar.

Country Style Cottage Cheese Tortilla Espanola

Photo Courtesy of Hood Cottage Cheese


This is a really fun egg dish with lots of unexpected tastes and textures. Foremost, the texture of the country-style cottage cheese mixed in with the baked eggs is not only a ton of added protein but a great texture! I like Hood Country Style Cottage Cheese a lot here but their other flavors like Cracked Pepper and Chive are also fun for added taste. The potatoes and onions are wonderful with the baked eggs. The potatoes chips are fun, crunchy and reinforce the potato flavor. This is a great on the table and cut into wedges like a pie. You can also plate it in individual portions and make this your “new” gluten-free, high protein go-to quiche.


-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

-2 medium (about ½ - ¾ pound total) Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into thin (1/4-inch) rounds

-Kosher salt

-2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

-6 large eggs, lightly beaten

-1 cup Hood Country Style Cottage Cheese

-1/2 small bag (1 ounce) potato chips

-1 small bunch chives, cut into 1-inch pieces, about 1/3 cup total

Yield: 6-8 servings


1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Cook the potatoes and onions: Heat a 9-inch nonstick skillet and add the olive oil. Heat over medium heat until it begins to smoke lightly. Remove the pan from the heat and layer the potatoes in an even layer in the bottom of the pan. It’s ok if they overlap slightly or you have small second layer. Season with salt. Layer the onions on top of the potatoes. Return the pan to medium heat, add 1/4 cup cool water to the pan and cook, watching carefully. The water will cook down and the bottoms of the potatoes will start to brown and soften, 5-8 minutes.

3. Flip the potatoes: With a metal spatula, turn the potatoes and onions on their second side, add another ¼ cup water and allow for the water to cook down and for the potatoes to brown and soften more, 5-8 minutes. The potatoes should feel tender when pierced with the tip of a small knife.

4. Cook the eggs: Stir 1 tablespoon of cool water into the eggs and pour half of them to the pan with the potatoes. Add a pinch of salt. Place the pan in the center of the oven and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan and layer the cottage cheese in the center of the eggs, leaving about 1 inch around the edge without cottage cheese. Imagine it as the filling. Pour the remaining egg mix gently over it and on the sides. Place in the oven and bake until the eggs are fairly firm and lightly browned, 5-6 minutes.

5. Finish: Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Unmold the eggs onto a large serving platter, sprinkle with salt. Cut into wedges but do not separate them. Top with the potato chips and chives.