Progressive Dinner: Make-Ahead Sweet Potato Cran-Apple Gratin!

Many of us get stressed out by entertaining, so the holidays are the times that we force ourselves to “just do it.” Especially if we plan a dinner party – appetizers, salad, entree’ and dessert – there’s so much to think about! But really it’s not about perfection – most of us know that. It’s just about knowing what to do.

If you’re a reluctant entertainer, planning a progressive meal is a great way to start. All you have to do is cook one course. It’s that simple. If you missed my story on appetizers and salads, click back and see how it all started for us.

One tip that I like to remember is to not concentrate too much on myself when I entertain. The sooner I stop thinking about myself and make my guests feel comfortable when they come into my house, then my attitude and even the whole way I look at entertaining, changes.

On this night I served my tried and true Savory Salmon, Roasted Asparagus, and my new recipe I want to share with you today, Sweet Potato Cranberry-Apple Gratin. I’ll tell you this, we all gave the “yums” when we dove into dinner. I think the potatoes were the hit!

But before I share the recipe, it’s tradition for us to always get a picture of the girls.

The 8 of us trying to figure out what we are doing.

The guys who all make the evening fun and interesting.

And now the recipe. Hold on … I’ll warn you that if you make this for Christmas, you’re going to hear a lot of “yums” around your table, too.

Sweet Potato Cranberry-Apple Gratin
Serves 10-12

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1 1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated and divided
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups milk
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
2-3 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup cream

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Pour boiling water over the cranberries to plump (I love this word), and set aside. Arrange half the sweet potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with half of the rosemary and 1/2 cup of cheese. Lay the apple slices on top and sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Next, arrange the remaining sweet potatoes over the apples and sprinkle with remaining rosemary.

Bring the milk, garlic and ginger to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes and pour over the potatoes. Season with more salt and pepper and dot with butter. Drain the plumped cranberries and sprinkle on top.

Cover tightly with foil and bake until potatoes are tender (about 30-40 minutes). You can check with a knife or a fork for tenderness. Remove from the heat; remove the foil and pour the 2/3 cup of cream on top. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup of cheese. Continue baking for about 25-20 minutes until cream bubbles very thickly at the edges and the top is browned.

Cool slightly and serve. Or bake ahead and re-warm right before serving.

I’d love to hear what recipe you serve for a Christmas dinner that you can make ahead, that brings out a lot of “yums?”

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY from yesterday, and if youve missed the previous progressive dinner posts, here are the links:
Progressive Dinner: How to Get Started and Party Luminaries
Progressive Dinner: Heirlooms and Cran-Raspberry Spinach Salad

15 comments on “Progressive Dinner: Make-Ahead Sweet Potato Cran-Apple Gratin!”

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  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one that is “helping Santa Baby along a bit”. I also will be buying the ingredients to make this recipe. It has to be delicious !

  4. Pingback: I’m A Reluctant Entertainer

  5. Your Sweet Potato Cranberry-Apple Gratin looks absolutely delicious. If I had a spoon nearby, I would have tried to take a bite. I work with Better Recipes and am presently focusing on Christmas dinner recipes. For more suggestions and recipes, such as Throw It in a Bag Rosemary Turkey Breast and Baked Onions with Sour Cream Raisin Source, check these out Christmas Dinner Recipes

  6. Wonderful :) I imagine you’d get nothing but “YUMS” with a dish like this. Happy times :)

  7. Hmmmm…let’s see. I don’t know that I typically make something that can be made ahead of time. Last year I did make a cranberry apple dish that I suppose could be made in advance.

  8. Gorgeous phots Sandy! Love the table… looks like such a wonderful evening!

  9. Warning…even though the picture looks amazingly appetizing DO NOT lick your computer screen. Instead run right out and buy the ingredients to make this tempting dish. That’s what I’m going to do. And while I’m running, I’m running right over to Amazon and buy your book. I’m just helping Santa Baby along a bit :-)

  10. Wow, what fun!! Love the photos and LOVE the recipe :) HAVE A GREAT WEEK GIRL!

  11. Love the photos! I would love to attend one of your fabulous parties, especially if you are serving this dish! Mmmm!

  12. Christmas dinner for us is always very casual. We usually do a big Christmas brunch instead with an overnight breakfast casserole. Put it together Christmas Eve, then take it out Christmas morning to bake while we’re opening gifts.

  13. Oh, Sandy, that dish looks so yummy! And you look just beautiful. What a great evening!

    Have you published that salmon recipe somewhere? Is it in the book? I need to look in the index–a no-fail salmon recipe sounds great!

    We had a dinner party Friday night and I made my own no-fail main dish–bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. So delicious and absolutely foolproof!

    Love you, girl!

  14. Oh my…that looks so good! I make a sweet potato cranberry bake…but cheese and apples….YUM! I have to ask, what is with it on the plate in the last picture? It looks like sprigs of fresh rosemary?

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