Okay... back to my mom. Granted we lived in Alaska, and I didn't know there were options, but my mom always bought the can of yams and poured it in a baking dish, sprinkled it with marshmallows and warmed it up, even after we moved to civilization. That's not hard to improve upon, but if you've never made them, it's hard to know where to start. For me, it started when my step sister made these and told me how. I went home determined to rid my life of canned yams. And so it began...
Behold our sweet friend in all his naked glory! I can't say why exactly, but I'm a bigger fan of the sweet potato than the yam. I almost got in fist-i-cuffs one year with a woman in the produce section because she heard me telling my youngest that we only use sweet potatoes. For some reason, she became furious that I wouldn't use yams! People, people! It's a just a root vegetable!
Where was I? Right! Sweet potatoes! I try to get mine all in the same diameter so that they'll cook evenly. Because I'm a fiend for these, I usually buy at least 6 or7. Take 'em home, rinse them and boil them until they're just tender. Usually about 20-30 minutes depending on diameter. Immediately drain them. I cut mine up while they're still pretty warm, but you can wait...
Remove the ends and slice into even width slices, about an inch or so... or however thick you want them. Skin the slices. Begin layering them into a cassarole dish. When the first layer is complete, add splotches of butter over the top (I go a little heavy on the butter, maybe a tbsp or two per layer total), then a sprinkle of brown sugar, then a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice (easy on the allspice). I've also traded allspice for corriander and it was great!
Then keep adding layers (sweet potato, butter, brown sugar spices) until you run out of sweet potatoes. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to bake. I usually stick it in with the turkey for around an hour or so at 325. In a glass dish, you'd be able to see the bubbley action in the bottom of the dish) In the final phase, you can cover them with a light layer of mini marshmallows and put them back in the oven for a few brief moments for the melting.
These don't look like canned, runny yams and your inlaws may refuse to eat them if you bring them along as your dinner contribution. Not everyone can be converted.
These will stay warm for a long time, so if you have to take them out to make room for the dressing or something, no worries!
You'll never go back to canned!