Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, belated Happy Hanukkah … just happy holidays everyone! We’re going in for the second round of holiday meals, y’all!

Ever since my family’s great Thanksgiving debacle of 2016, when the caterer we used delivered late and either the wrong, undercooked or not cooked at all dishes, we are banning together for Christmas to cook. Mom is doing the turkey, stuffing and the giblet gravy, my sister is making the ham and hors d’oeuvres and my niece is bringing the mac and cheese.

I will be making some fresh cranberry sauce, quick-braised collard greens (or surprise my sister and make roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon) and finally roasted and whipped yams that are as simple as pie. Pie? The wheels are turning…

For the roasted and whipped yams, use equally sized yams. Rinse, dry, poke with a fork on the top side only, rub with a little olive oil and place on a lined sheet pan with enough space between them. Roast in a pre-heated 400-degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender and you can see the caramelized sugar oozing out, or poke with a paring knife. It should go in and out easily.

When done, remove the yams from the oven and let cool slightly to handle. Peel (the skin should easily fall away) and add the cooked flesh to a bowl. Now add butter, heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste, or until your heart’s desire (whichever comes first). Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice or chipotle chili powder, if you dare, are all great choices. Mash, stir and fold until the ingredients are incorporated.

Once the mash is done, you can enjoy as is or add to a casserole dish and top with any of the following, separately or in combination. Marshmallows and crushed graham crackers for those who like sweet and chopped pecans, rendered bacon and fresh rosemary for my savory brethren.

I recently prepared these yams for a client but not as a side dish. Instead the yams topped a ground chicken shepherd’s pie. A light, sweet, smooth foil for savory minced chicken filling delicately laced with spicy harissa. I didn’t get any complaints.

If I have left over yam base, I might (MIGHT) bless the family with my yam pie with thick, buttery graham cracker crust. Truth be told, I made it on a lark many, many Thanksgivings ago. My family scoffed at my graham cracker crust until they tried it and it became World War III over the last third of the pie, but I digress.

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at Follow AmNewsFOOD @NYAmNewsFOOD.