Got leftovers?

The most indulgent season of the year often ends with an excess of chocolate, cheese, cream, bread and pastry in the kitchen, but CBC Calgary food and nutritionist columnist Julie Van Rosendaal has five ways to repurpose them for the new year before your resolutions kick in.

Leftovers in Puff Pastry

Anything tastes (and looks) fantastic wrapped in store-bought puff pastry, which always bakes up crispy and golden.

Try mincemeat and brie, prosciutto and Gruyère, or roasted veggies and crumbled goat cheese, or go sweet and fill the pastry with Nutella and chopped leftover chocolate and nuts.

  • 1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • pesto or grainy mustard
  • thinly-sliced ham, shredded turkey or leftover roasted veggies
  • grated or thinly-sliced brie, Gouda, Gruyère, crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 egg

Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. On a lightly floured surface, unroll your puff pastry, or roll each piece (or just use one, if you want a smaller "pie") out to about 10 to 12 inches.

Spread with pesto or mustard and top with ham and cheese — or whatever fillings you like — leaving an inch uncovered around the edge. If you're just using a single piece of puff pastry, spread the toppings over half of it. In a small bowl, stir the egg with a spoonful of water.

Top with a second piece of pastry or fold the uncovered half over, brush the edge with the egg wash and press or fold over and crimp to seal. If you have time, cover with plastic and put back in the fridge for an hour or up to a day.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425F. Brush the top of the pastry with some egg wash, and cut a few slits in the top to help steam escape. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges or fingers to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Inspired by Ina Garten)

Torta Sbrisolona (aka Shortbread Crumble Cookie Tart)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups sliced or slivered almonds
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
  • ½-1 cup mincemeat, fruit preserves, fig jam, lemon curd, chopped chocolate or anything else you want to use

Preheat the oven to 350F. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, almonds, sugar and salt until well blended and the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter and vanilla or almond extract and pulse until well combined and crumbly. The mixture should hold together when you squeeze it.

Divide a little more than half the mixture between two eight- or nine-inch cake pans, eight-by-eight-inch pans, fluted tart pans or one nine-by-13-inch pan. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Spread with mincemeat, preserves, or whatever you want to top it with, then sprinkle the rest of the crumble mixture over the top, squeezing slightly as you go. Bake for 30 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges and set. Cool before cutting into wedges or squares.

Serves 16 to 20.

Fromage Fort

Fromage Fort is a great way to repurpose all kinds of cheese ends. It's ideal if you have a combination of firm and soft cheeses, just remember that any blue cheese will overwhelm it — so use it sparingly or expect a blue cheese spread.

  • ½ lb. grated, chopped or crumbled cheese, such as Swiss, Brie, goat, Gouda, cheddar, fontina, provolone
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1-2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a big pinch of fresh herbs, such as chopped rosemary or thyme (optional)

Put everything into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add some extra wine if there aren't many hard cheeses in your mix. Pack into a shallow dish or large ramekin. The Fromage Fort can be served cold, with crackers and baguette, or spread on crostini and broiled for a few minutes until bubbly and golden.

(Adapted from Food and Wine magazine, courtesy of Jacques Pépin)

Cream Biscuits

Biscuits are an excellent way to use up leftover cream, and you can add anything to them to make them sweet or savoury — from grated bits of cheese to chopped chocolate and dried fruit of any kind.

Add any dry additions to the dry ingredients and toss before adding the cream, or stir fresh or frozen berries in along with it. Biscuits also make a great vehicle for leftover roast ham or turkey.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • extra cream or milk, for brushing (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. If you like, add a handful of grated sharp cheese, some fresh or frozen berries, chocolate chunks or other additions. Add the cream and stir just until the dough comes together. On a lightly-floured surface, knead the dough a few times, then pat into a circle about an inch thick.

Cut into wedges and transfer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet; if you like, brush the tops with milk or extra cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.

Makes eight to 10 biscuits.

Real Hot Chocolate (with or without Peanut Butter or Nutella)

Chop up all that leftover chocolate to make the most indulgent hot chocolate you’ll ever taste — perfect for the kids on New Year’s Eve (or for grown-ups, with a shot of Bailey’s) and great for any outdoor activities you might partake in on New Year’s Day.

  • 4-5 cups whole milk, or ½ milk and ½ half & half
  • 8 oz. chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso or coffee powder (optional)
  • a few drops of vanilla (optional)
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter or Nutella (or more, to taste)

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and cream until it’s steaming (don’t bring it to a boil); remove from heat and add the chocolate.

Let it sit a minute, then whisk until it’s smooth. Whisk in everything else, stirring to melt the peanut butter or Nutella if you’re using it. Serve warm.

Serves four.

Julie Van Rosendaal is CBC Calgary's food and nutrition columnist. For all of her recipes click here.