can cottage cheese go bad?
You will definitely be able to tell by the smell. I've found it goes off pretty close to the expiry date--either a few days before or after.
Since you have about 3 lbs. of it...
I have used cottage cheese that was just past its expiry date in some breads (sorry, don't have a recipe)--pureed in a blender or food processor and added as a substitute for milk or cheese, along with dill or other herbs.
Other than that, you'll have to write it off if you can't consume it before it goes bad.
I have had very bad staphylococcal food poisoning from questionable cottage cheese (kept warm for a while, did not smell bad). This is the kind of food poisoning where you think you are going to die but you don't. Both ends working at once, with cramps, with a high fever, but it's over in 12 hours. Cooking the cottage cheese will NOT prevent it. The bacteria do not grow inside you, they grow in the cottage cheese and produce a toxin that is not destroyed in cooking. This type of food poisoning is different from salmonella or E coli, in which the bacteria can grow in your intestinal tract.
These bacteria don't grow in yogurt because the pH is too low (the acidity of yogurt preserves it).
If the container has never been opened, and if the manufacturing was scrupulously clean, you might be OK. But staph bacteria are ubiquitous on human skin, for example, so if you touched a spoon, then put the spoon in, you will introduce these bacteria. They grow well in warmth but they also grow, albeit slowly, at refrigerator temperatures. In summary, don't take a chance.
re: Sweet Pea
1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 28-32 oz spaghetti sauce
8 oz lasagna noodles (don't cook)
16 oz cottage cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz grated parmesan
1 T oregano
Brown beef / turkey and drain (I throw in any misc. veggies hanging around). Add spaghetti sauce & oregano. Heat until warm. Put a thin layer of the sauce on bottom of 13x9 pan or 2 loaf pans if you want smaller servings) to keep noodles from sticking. Layer uncooked noodles, layer of sauce/meat , cottage cheese, mozzarella, and repeat. Top with parmesan. Cover and freeze. When you're ready for it, bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes uncovered, but watch towards the end and cover if it starts to brown. I don't think I even defrosted first.