I made a few mistakes along the way for sheer lack of planning, but it worked out great.
And, to recap, Dad picked up a 5lb bag of sweet cherries out of the blue.
Photos mostly behind the cut.
So, first, there was the pitting, which was done to a Rachel Maddow Show soundtrack:
I was thoroughly surprised to find that sweet cherries taste like plums. They were fantastic. I rinsed the fresh cherries and put a small sauce pot on the stove. 1/2 cup water + a squeeze of lemon juice + 4tbsp of cornstarch + 2/3 cup of sugar. (It was more like: a handful of sugar. These cherries were sweet enough.) I whisked the liquid together over medium heat until it was a white milky blend. Then I dumped in the cherries.
I let it cook. Kept stirring. The liquid turned a lovely pink. Oh my gosh this tasted good. So much better than any artificial cherry filling I've ever had the misfortune to come near. The liquid thickened up nicely. I took it off the burner and set it aside to cool.
Then I started the cheesecake filling. This was meant to be a pie with the cherry filling "on top" of the cheesecake filling. If I'd been thinking clearly, I would have actually whipped the half-n-half to peaks by itself. But no, I dumped all of the ingredients in together, so I got a fairly solid pudding consistency. 1 block of softened cream cheese (Neufchatel in this case). 1/2 cup powdered sugar. 1 & 1/2 cups of half-n-half. At this point you should add vanilla but the folks are out of it, so no go. Into the mixer it went:
I then gave up on it ever reaching peaks. Maybe if I'd given it another 5 or 10 minutes, but... So, I poured it into the crust. Why I poured -all- of it into the (graham cracker) crust is beyond me. I had leftover "cheesecake pudding" so I poured that into a container to use later with fresh berries. I then put this pie below into the fridge to see if the "pudding" would harden up.
After an hour I realized that this "pudding" was never going to harden up. So, I decided - I'll mix the cherry pie filling with the cheesecake filling. And sure enough, the mixture of the two was enough to cause the pie to start to "harden" up to cuttable state fairly quickly after I put it back into the fridge.
And it tastes truly fantastic.