If anyone knows how to get a nice, home-cooked meal on the dinner table, it’s Patricia Heaton.
The mom to four boys and star of The Middle is all about sharing easy dishes that anyone can whip up, as seen on her former Food Network show Patricia Heaton Parties. To help other busy moms out, Heaton has put her favorite recipes into one collection with her debut cookbook Patricia Heaton’s Food for Family and Friends: 100 Favorite Recipes for a Busy, Happy Life.
“I thought it’d be nice to take some of the similar things that we did [on the show], maybe change them up a bit for the book and add some new things and just be able to write a little more about my life,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively. “There’s a few anecdotal things in there just about my history and the stuff I talked about on the Food Network show. It was fun to put it all down so people can get it in one place and see everything there.”
Heaton’s book, on sale Feb. 6, features several different categories, including breakfast recipes, finger foods, family favorites, sides and veggies, desserts, happy hour snacks and goodies for guests.
“This book is for anybody who wants to do easy, fun meals,” she says. “Many you can do ahead of time and if you like to occasionally entertain but not be too fancy. If your style is sort of warm and welcoming and casual, this is for you.”
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The former Everybody Loves Raymond star says her love for food started early on thanks to the show’s creator Phil Rosenthal. “He was a big foodie. The food they would have on the set was incredible. Flying in deep dish pizza from Chicago, and before Krispy Kreme doughnuts had gone national, flying those in. And we had the Pink Hot Dog truck come to set.”
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As someone who works up to 12 hours a day filming, Heaton says the cookbook is a dedication to other hardworking women: “It’s a tribute to the women in my life and to how hard moms work, and trying to add a little fun and ease to their routine.”