May 15, 2013 10:00 AM

Amy Neunsinger

Becoming a mom changes a lot in a woman’s life — your schedule, sleep pattern and more. But it can also awaken your desire to pursue other passions, which was definitely the case for Ali Larter when she welcomed 2-year-old Theodore in 2010.

“After my son was born, I realized how much time I spend on set acting and how much I love that, but when I’m not on set, I’m usually throwing dinner parties or cooking and entertaining in some way,” the actress tells PEOPLE.

“So I thought you know what, maybe I’ll try to put a book together, that sounds like kind of a fun thing to do in my off-time.”

The result of all Larter’s hard work is Kitchen Revelry: A Year of Festive Menus From My Home to Yours, which will hit stores in September.

According to the actress, the entertaining guide/cookbook is for women who are just starting to learn the art of hosting.

“I wish I had [this] when I was 25,” she says. “I threw some really horrible dinner parties when I was younger because I put so much stress and pressure on myself to make things prefect. What I’ve really learned is that no one really cares if things taste perfect. All they care about is having a great time and being together with friends and being invited into your home.”

Luckily, Larter shares several simple dishes that are guaranteed to impress your guests. One of her favorite appetizers: gougères, which are “just a decadent cheese puff.”

And she’s also finally revealing the ingredients of her homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. “It’s pretty incredible, my friends are always trying to get that recipe.”

So does the busy mom have any tips on getting your little ones interested and involved in cooking?

“Start out with things that you love. At this point, I try to feed my son what we eat for dinner and expose him to really interesting, different foods. And if he doesn’t like it, it’s fine, it’s more about trying and thinking of food as a fun adventure.”

For more of Larter’s entertaining tips and recipes, go to her blog kitchenrevelry.com. Also, the actress exclusively reveals one of the book’s recipes below:

Amy Neunsinger

Fig, Prosciutto and Mascarpone Crostini
Serves 12

1 baguette, cut on slight diagonal into 24 slices

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ripe fresh figs, stemmed, each cut crosswise into 6 slices (Substitute with any seasonal fruit if needed)
8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
¾ cup mascarpone cheese (about 6 ounces)
Balsamic syrup, for drizzling
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Brush the baguette slices lightly with olive oil. Bake until the slices are lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the crostini cool to room temperature on the baking sheet.

Spread the mascarpone cheese over the crostini, dividing equally. Top each with a lightly folded slice of prosciutto, then a fig slice. Drizzle each generously with balsamic syrup and sprinkle lightly with cracked pepper and serve immediately.

Shanelle Rein-Olowokere with reporting by Kiran Hefa

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