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.

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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