Steve’s Faves

Favorite Local Eateries

Albanese Candy Factory :: Hobart

Not really a restaurant but if you eat enough candy, it’s like a meal!

Aurelios Stuffed Pizza :: all locations
Brewsters Deli & Café :: New Buffalo, MI

LOVE this place. After dinner it’s a short walk to the beach to catch a Lake MI sunset.

Broadway Café :: Valparaiso

GREAT breakfast; make sure you go to the Valpo location.

Gelsasamos Pizza :: Crown Point

Chicken Barbecue Pizza

Grand Park Café :: Merrillville

Order whatever but make sure you get the Custard dessert!

Heavenly Ham :: Hobart

Box lunch ham on croissant special best kept lunch secret around.

Houlihans :: Schererville

Lunch Rosemary Chicken.

Lighthouse Restaurant :: Cedar Lake

Be sure to try the filet.

Longhorn Steakhouse :: Hobart

The Renegade Steak and The Chocolate Stampede.

Meyer’s Castle :: Dyer

A bit pricey but worth it for a special occasion.

Red Arrow Roadhouse :: Union Pier, MI

We discovered this place on a pastors’ retreat. The best ribs I have ever eaten! Monday night they are half off.

Local “Beauty” Spots

Bethel Church Lake MI Summer Baptisms at sunset
Bethel Church Prayer Walk :: Crown Point
County Line Orchard in Fall :: Hobart
Deep River Park :: Hobart
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Mt. Baldy Dune :: Michigan City
NWI Symphony Orchestra :: Summer outdoor concert series
Sandy Pines Golf Course :: Demotte
Silver Hawk Holes 2-7 :: White Hawk Country Club/Crown Point
Tall Tree Arboreteum :: Valpo
Valparaiso University Campus
Warren Dunes State Park :: Sawyer, MI

Favorite Golf Holes in NWI

Aberdeen Country Club #5
Aberdeen Country Club #12
Lost Marsh Country Club #1
Pheasant Valley Country Club #9
Sandy Pines #2
White Hawk Country Club – Silver #4
White Hawk Country Club – Black #2
White Hawk Country Club – Black #6
Youche Country Club #5

Some Favorite Recipes

While I don’t cook, here are some favorite recipes I have enjoyed in the homes and gatherings of Bethel Church (certainly NOT an exhaustive list)


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Thank you to Charlotte Helton for this recipe
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, sugar and eggs. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda and salt. Combine both mixtures. Add mashed bananas. Add chocolate chips. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then move to cooling rack to finish cooling. Makes 18-24 muffins, depending on size.

Pear Salad

Thank you to Mom for this recipe
  • 1 pkg. lime Jell-O (0.6 oz.)
  • 8 oz. container Cool Whip
  • 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 lg. can pears

Prepare Jell-O according to pkg. directions. Put in refrigerator to slightly congeal. Drain pears and mash then and set aside. Mix softened cream cheese and add cool whip and mix. Add congealed Jell-O and mix. Add mashed pears and fold in. Put in refrigerator to set. At least four hours.

Cheesy Ham Chowder

Thank you to Wilma Gullickson for this recipe
  • 7-8 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 ½ cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, 15 oz. drained
  • 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
  • 2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cooked ham, cubed


In Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook bacon until crisp – drain on paper towel, set aside. Pour out ½ of bacon grease. Sauté onion & carrots. Stir in flour and gradually add milk & broth. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes, corn, bouillon & pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 min until potatoes are done.  Add ham & cheese. Stir in bacon before serving.

Chocolate Éclair Cake

Thank you to Susan Pierson for this recipe
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 boxes instant French vanilla pudding
  • 12 oz. container of Cool Whip
  • 1 container milk chocolate frosting

For the filling, mix the two boxes of pudding with 3 cups of milk, then add Cool Whip. Set aside.

Place one layer of graham crackers on the bottom of a 10 x 14 pan (9 x 13 pan is too small), then layer half of the filling mixture, add another layer of graham crackers and then the rest of filling, then another layer of graham crackers. Microwave the frosting for 40 seconds to melt, then pour over the top. Refrigerate for 24 hours before enjoying.

Key Lime Pie

Thank you to Lenora Zanellato for this recipe
  • 1 graham cracker pie shell, 9-inch
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup Nellie and Joe’s lime juice


Combine the milk, egg yolks and lime juice, blend until smooth and pour into pie shell. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. After baked let sit for 10 minutes, then refrigerate. Once cool, top with fresh, whipped cream.

Lattice Top Chicken

Thank you to Marcia Vandegutche for this recipe
  • 2 to 3 c. cooked chicken
  • 1 c. milk
  • 16 oz. California Blend Vegetables, thawed and drained. (Or if I have time I like to use fresh broccoli, cauliflower and carrots that have been slightly steamed. It can be more than 16 oz. worth if you want the casserole to go further.)
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can cream of potato soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • ½  tsp. seasoned salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pkg. refrigerator crescent rolls
  • 1 c. Durkee fried onions


In a 9 x 12 inch dish, combine chicken, vegetables, ½ cup cheese, and ½ can onions. Combine soup, milk and seasoned salt. Pour over casserole.

Press perforated edges of crescent rolls together. Cut into strips. Place on casserole to form a lattice top. Bake, uncovered, 35 minutes. Or until crescent rolls are golden brown. Top lattice with remaining cheese and onions. Bake 3 to 5 minutes more.


If you don’t want to take the time to do the Lattice Top, I have omitted it and just added more onions and cheese on the top.

I have even added a little left over rice to it.

Pampered Chef ® Fresh Pineapple Salsa

Thank you to Ruthie Hankins for this recipe
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1, 4-in. piece seedless cucumber
  • ½ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 medium pineapple
  • 1 lime
  • ½ tsp salt (more to taste if desired)
  • lime tortilla chips


Hull and remove seeds from tomatoes using Core & More. Dice tomatoes, onion and cucumber using Santoku Knife. Chop cilantro. Combine tomatoes, onion, cucumber and cilantro in Classic Batter Bowl.  Cut jalapeño in half lengthwise with Utility Knife and remove seeds using Core & More. Finely chop jalapeño using Food Chopper; add to batter bowl. Slice top and bottom off of pineapple using Santoku Knife, creating a flat base. Stand pineapple upright; use Pineapple Wedger to core and peel. Set aside half of the pineapple for another use. Dice pineapple flesh. Juice a lime using Juicer to measure about 2 tbsp of juice. Add pineapple, lime juice and salt to batter bowl. Mix thoroughly until combined. Serve with Lime Tortilla Chips, if desired. Or you can place all ingredients in bowl and chop with Salad Choppers!

Yield: 16 servings (3 cups)

Strawberry Pretzel Jello

Thank you to Melissa Anderson for this recipe
  • 8 oz. bag pretzels, crushed
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 8 oz. soft cream cheese
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip
  • 8 oz. strawberry Jell-O
  • 2 c. water
  • 16 oz. frozen strawberries with juice


Melt stick of butter and mix with the crushed pretzels. Form this into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan to make the crust. Sprinkle the sugar on the top of the pretzel crust. Bake at 325° for 7 minutes. Cool completely.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Then add strawberry jello and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.  Add partially thawed frozen strawberries with juice. Stir until all the strawberries are separated.  Place this pan in the freezer for approximately 15 minutes.

Mix together cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Fold in Cool Whip until blended. Spread this on top of the cooled pretzel crust.

Pour the strawberry liquid on top of the cool whip mixture.

Place the Jell-O in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or over night. Then it is ready to serve.

Strawberry Pie

Thank you to Julie Kovacic for this recipe


  • 1 ½ c. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ c. oil

Mix and press crust mixture into a 9″ pie pan. Bake crust @ 400° for 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool.


  • 2 Tbsp. Karo syrup
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. corn starch

Cook, on medium heat until the milky appearance disappears and it turns clear (approx. 3 min). Remove from heat and stir in 3 Tbsp. of strawberry Jello. Set aside and let cool.

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 ½ qrts. fresh strawberries
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese

After crust has cooled, gently spread the softened cream cheese into the crust. (The less you mess with it, the better). When filling has cooled, stir in the cut strawberries, pour into crust and refrigerate.

*Don’t make too far in advance (i.e., a day ahead) – it tends to get watery.


Thank you to Natalie Mantel for this recipe


  • (2) 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temp, cut into pieces (can use mascarpone instead which is more authentic, but I actually like to work with the cream cheese better and people seem to like the texture more with the cream cheese)
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. milk
  • 4 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. brandy (optional – you can decide for yourself what to do with this ingredient! I generally don’t include it unless I’m sure it’s okay)
  • 3 ½ c. whipping cream (not Cool Whip or canned)
  • 2 ½ c. strong coffee (espresso is best, the stronger the better, but anything will do)
  • 1 pkg. lady fingers (I prefer the crispier brands rather than the soft ones. These are available at a few grocers, e.g., Amelias sometimes, and most import stores such as Ted’s in Merrillville next to the post office. These can be purchased whenever it’s convenient and frozen)
  • ½ c. cocoa powder



Beat cream cheese, sugar and milk until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla and brandy. Transfer to another bowl.

Whip cream until stiff (if you’ve never done this before, whip at full speed with a wire whip, but keep a keen eye on it as it will change from whipped cream to whipped butter quickly) and carefully fold into the cream cheese mixture. (The idea behind folding is to retain as much of the air that has been whipped into the mixtures. So use a wide rubber spatula and bring up mixture from bottom and gently cut it into the whipped cream on top with as little disturbance as possible until the mixture is fairly even.)

Cover mixture and refrigerate for at least an hour or two. This can actually be done a few days in advance if it’s more convenient.

Pour coffee into shallow dish. Dip lady fingers quickly to dampen both sides but DO NOT SOAK. Arrange on bottom of 9 x 12 serving dish or whatever shape dish you prefer. Pour half of mixture evenly over layer. Add another layer of lady fingers and another layer of mixture.

Using a screened sugar shaker (or you can use a screened tea sieve), dust the top evenly with cocoa.

Refrigerate overnight for best texture.


Add Yours
  1. Kim Wentz

    I am going to have to agree with you on Brewsters in New Buffalo. I was just there last week with my sister, but we have met there many times. Vegetable pita with a salad and the house dressing. Delicious. The short walk in the evening to the beach is lovely. We also like Hannahs in New Buffalo for family gatherings.

    Good choice Steve!

  2. Angie Popovich

    Hey Pastor Steve! I also LOVE Brewsters in New Buffalo. My family has been going up there for years. If you like pizza you have to try it there, soo good! Oh and strawberry pretzel jello is one of my favorites too, nice choices. 🙂

  3. Lynn Beilfuss

    Pastor Steve,

    This is a really nice blog. The entries have been enlightening and some replies have brought tears to my eyes. I have just ended on the recipe section. I am seriously thinking about trying that Strawberry Pie recipe. We might have to invite you over to share it. I actually kept a look out for the Miller Bakery Cafe as we drove out to the baptisms on Sunday. Still haven’t come across it though. Jim and I may have to take a ride out on the motorcycle and find it for ourselves. Keep up the great work.

  4. Sheryl Sprague

    Though I hate to ever make any corrections for you, Pastor, may I just add that it is Grand PARK Cafe, instead of Grand Cafe, to which you refer. It’s on Mississippi, just south of the mall, and it is like a second home to Gary and me. Anybody would love just about anything they have! Gary and I are actually trying to be a witness to the owners, Chris and Nicoletta. They’re good people…they just need to know the Lord.

  5. Lakieta

    Those are some good food picks. I think you should try Asparagus Restaurant in Merrillville. Thai with Vietmenese & French influences. If you haven’t tried them, you should..

  6. Kim Kortum

    In 10 years at Bethel Brian and I have never had you over for dinner. However, that was before I knew you had this “recipe hall of fame” here on your blog. I see a challenge ahead of me. I want to have a recipe posted on your blog! I will think hard, plan a killer meal, and have you over soon!

  7. Sheryl Sprague

    Kim, you did know, right, that Gary and I are Pastor Steve’s assistants in this cause. We absolutely must be invited to share whatever you want to be included in his faves!

  8. Cltgrace

    Hi, just browsing around Bethel & stumbled upon these recipes. That’s my Key Lime pie recipe you’ve posted up there. Tasty, eh? I’ve been looking for a yummy, but easy, strawberry pie recipe & I think I’ve found it right here. Thanks for sharing your favs.

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