By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Crevolyn Wiley: Christmas Eve dinner withstands test of time
Placeholder Image

As I’m writing this column, we’ve just returned from the annual Family Christmas Communion Service at our church. It is one of my favorite traditions of the Christmas season.

The chapel is lit by candles and Christmas tree twinkle lights while carols are played softly in the background.

As a family we gather with one or two other families around the table to reflect on the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. The bread and cup are shared. And at the end, we join hands and pray together.

As I was holding my 27-year-old son’s hand that night, I thought of how those hands have grown from a boy to a man, making new memories while remembering the past.

Through the years, traditions such as this one have survived our family’s growing up and growing older. Children remember a lot of things about their childhood, but none more important than time spent together as a family. Throughout the years, we’ve decorated gingerbread houses, baked cookies, delivered goodies to friends and neighbors, participated in Secret Santa and gone caroling.

But the tradition that has stood the test of time is our Christmas Eve supper. The family comes in the door after working a long day at the grocery store, and they are ready to eat. These recipes are two of our favorites.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas and wonderful 2017!

Christmas ambrosia salad

1 large can mandarin oranges, drained

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1 cup flaked coconut, toasted

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Mix together oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, grapes and sour cream. Chill for several hours.

Immediately before serving, add coconut and pecans.

To toast coconut:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place coconut evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Put the baking sheet on the middle rack and bake for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, gently stir the coconut with a spatula.

Bake until golden brown, about 3-4 more minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely.

Be sure you keep an eye on it. It toasts quickly.

To toast pecans:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and place pecans evenly on it. Bake until the nuts become aromatic, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Be careful not to burn.


Christmas dinner garlic standing rib roast

1 (10-pound) standing rib roast

5 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Place the roast in a roasting pan with the fatty side up.

In a small bowl, mix garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Spread the mixture on fatty layer of roast and let it sit out until it is room temperature, no longer than one hour.

Bake roast for 20 minutes at 475 degrees, then reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Continue cooking for 60 to 75 minutes.

The internal temperature of roast should be at 135 degrees for medium rare.

Allow the roast to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving, allowing meat to retain juices. This will also allow the temperature to rise to about 145 degrees.


Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at

Regional events