Sunday DinnersFood, Family, and Faith from Our Favorite Pastors

Sunday Dinners brings readers to the kitchen and dining-room tables of thirteen of America’s favorite pastors and their families as they share their Sunday traditions, mealtime blessings, inspiring stories, strong family values, and favorite recipes.

Research shows that eating dinner together strengthens a family’s bond, and Sunday dinners are especially sacred. They are a time to bring everyone together, catch up, teach children manners and social skills, stay connected with teens, learn about family history and values, and nourish our bodies and souls.


In Sunday Dinners, the pastor families who share their experiences are know not just for their successes in the pulpit and in their communities but also for the strong families they have built. They preach it, and they live it, and that’s inspiring. This is a cookbook to be read and savored, to remind us that no matter how busy we think we are, we can still take time to come together, break bread, and connect with family and good friends.

Diane Cowen is a career journalist with more than twenty-five years of experience in news and feature writing and editing at U.S. newspapers. She is currently the editor of both religion and food sections at the Houston Chronicle, a Hearst newspaper and the largest newspaper in the U.S. with a stand-alone religion section. She has won numerous awards at state and national levels for news and feature writing and editing. At the Houston Chronicle, she was editor of several major projects, including stories that won the Dart Award and the James Beard Award. She is a longtime active member of the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and in 2009 was the president of that group, the largest trade organization for newspaper features editors. Its members oversee coverage of books, food, religion, and other lifestyle and arts/entertainment topics at newspapers large and small across the U.S.

Senator Russell’s Sweet Potatoes

Strawberry Cake




Senator Russell’s Sweet Potatoes


Serves 12



10 medium-size sweet potatoes

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup milk

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted



2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

2 cups chopped pecans


This might just be the most-baked holiday side dish in the state of Georgia. It’s named after Richard Russell, who was governor of the state and, later, a U.S. senator. Victoria Osteen’s mother’s family is from Georgia and the dish goes way back on their traditional holiday menu. Joel Osteen jokes that at the first Thanksgiving with Victoria’s family, he wasn’t sure if it was a side dish or a dessert.


Preheat the oven to 350°F.


Make the potatoes:


Bake the sweet potatoes until soft, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow them to cool enough to be handled, then peel and mash them. Push the potatoes through a ricer or sieve and place in a large bowl.


In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk, and butter.


Add to the sweet potatoes and mix.


Pour the potato mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.


Make the topping:


Whisk together the brown sugar and flour. Stir in the melted butter until crumbly, then add the pecans. (If the mixture isn’t crumbly, add more sugar.)


Sprinkle the topping over the potato mixture and bake for 50 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly.



Strawberry Cake

Serves 12


Many Southerners grew up with strawberry cake as a special Sunday treat, and Mike and Jeannie Glenn did, too. This is Jeannie’s adaptation of recipes from her mother and mother-in-law and would be a hit on any Sunday dinner menu.



1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix

4 large eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil

1 (3-ounce) package strawberry-flavored gelatin

½ cup frozen strawberries, thawed

½ cup water



½ cup frozen strawberries

½ cup (1 stick) margarine or butter

3 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.


Make the cake: In a large bowl, mix all of the cake ingredients until combined. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Set on wire racks to cool.


Make the frosting: Put the strawberries in a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave briefly to thaw. Drain off the juice from the berries and brush the juice over each layer of cake.


In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, combine the margarine with the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the strawberries and continue mixing until the strawberries are completely incorporated and the frosting is pink.


Invert one cake layer onto a cake plate. Spread 3/4 cup of frosting onto the top of the cake. Invert the second layer of cake onto another plate, then transfer it to the top of the frosted bottom layer of the cake.


Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Cut into twelve slices and serve.


-From Sunday Dinners: Food, Family, and Faith from Our Favorite Pastors by Diane Cowen/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC 2013



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