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Heavenly cherry pie

This cherry pie recipe combines cherries and chocolate to make it extra special; it's a pie that is true to its name — “Heavenly.”

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and hopefully you have made your preparations in advance, but if you have been procrastinating, this column will provide you with some quick and simple-to-fix recipes that may inspire you. Presidents’ Day also is coming soon and here are a couple of cherry-filled recipes to call attention to President George Washington and the cherry tree tradition.

Heavenly cherry pie

Cherries and cherry pie usually are associated with February. This cherry pie recipe combines cherries and chocolate to make it extra special; it's a pie that is true to its name — “Heavenly.”

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups chocolate wafer or Oreo cookie crumbs

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 (21 ounces) can cherry pie filling

1/4 cup sugar

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup water

1/2 of a 6-ounce package white chocolate baking squares (3 squares)

3 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups whipping cream or 1 (8 ounces) container whipped topping

2 tablespoons coffee liqueur or strong coffee

Whipped cream (optional)

Chocolate curls or leaves (optional)

Directions:

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. In a mixing bowl, combine wafer crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture evenly onto the bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool. Spread 1 cup of the pie filling in bottom of crust; set aside. Cover remaining pie filling; refrigerate.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and gelatin. Add water and white chocolate baking squares. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils, chocolate melts, and gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks. Stir in 3/4 cup of the hot gelatin mixture; stir until combined. Return all mixture to saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture bubbles. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Cover and chill about 45 minutes or until mixture is the consistency of unbeaten egg whites.

In a chilled mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream and the liqueur until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into chilled gelatin mixture; spoon into crust. If using prepared whipped topping, fold liqueur into whipped topping and then fold into gelatin mixture. Cover; chill for 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, spoon remaining pie filling evenly over pie. Serve with additional whipped cream and chocolate curls or leaves, if desired.

Source: “Our Favorite Pie Series” Promotional Flyer, Midwest Living Magazine.

Easy cherry cobbler

You also can enjoy the flavor and tradition of cherries in February with this super-simple version of cherry cobbler. The use of Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls makes for a unique topping on the cobbler.

Ingredients:

2 (1 pound, 6 ounces) cans cherry pie filling

1 (9 1/2 ounces) package refrigerator cinnamon rolls

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour cherry pie filling into an 11-by-7-by-1 1/2-inch baking dish. Heat in oven until cherries are bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place cinnamon rolls on the cherries; return to oven and bake an additional 20 minutes. Serve topped with ice cream.

Source: “Cherry Recipes,” Extension Service Publication from Flathead County Extension Office.

Easy chicken cordon bleu

If you are looking for a healthy and easy-to-prepare dish, try this simpler version of chicken cordon bleu. No pounding, flattening or stuffing needed for the chicken breasts. Instead the ingredients are simply layered in the baking dish and then baked. Serve with hot steamed broccoli for a quick and tasty Valentine dinner.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 (6 ounces) package lower-sodium stuffing mix for chicken

6 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 pounds)

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6 slices thin sliced smoked ham

1 (10 3/4 ounces) can reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

6 Swiss cheese slices

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare stuffing mix as directed on package; set aside. Place chicken in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan; cover with ham. Mix soup and mustard; spoon over chicken. Top with prepared stuffing. Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees). Top with cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. If desired, substitute 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss or shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese for the cheese slices.

Source: “A Valentine's Day Celebration,” Yellowstone County Extension Office Publication.

Candy shop pizza

For the chocolate lovers in your family, what could be more fun than this chocolate chip pizza for a Valentine treat? Using prepared cookie dough speeds up the preparation process, and it is a great way to use up your Valentine candy.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

1 (18 ounces) package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

1 cup semi-sweet morsels

1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

1 cup coarsely chopped assorted candy bars: Nestle Crunch, Butterfingers, Baby Ruth and/or 100 Grand

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan. Place dough, scored side down on baking sheet. Mold the dough into a heart shape. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Immediately sprinkle chocolate morsels over hot crust; drop peanut butter by spoonfuls onto morsels. Let stand 5 minutes, or until morsels are shiny. Gently spread chocolate and peanut butter evenly over cookie crust. Sprinkle chopped candy bars in a single layer over pizza. Cut into wedges; serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: “Entertaining the Costco Way,” Costco Wholesale.

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Bernie Mason has written the Local Flavor column for the Billings Gazette for three years or so. She was Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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