By peoplestaff225
Updated December 22, 2009 04:00 PM

It’s always stressful to whip up a holiday feast, but Nia Vardalos has an extra-special helper in the kitchen this year — her 4-year-old daughter.

“She’s my sous chef,” the My Big Fat Greek Wedding star told PEOPLE at the taping of the 11th Annual Home for the Holidays. “I give her a plastic knife and just get her to chop things up. [For] Christmas, I suddenly have a young helper in the kitchen!”

Since announcing late last year that she and husband Ian Gomez had adopted a preschooler, Nia has started passing on her Greek heritage using her favorite holiday recipes.

“She makes something called salt-and-pepper soup,” Nia explained while backstage at the holiday concert presented by Wendy’s Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. “I just give her every ingredient in the house and say it in English and in Greek, and she stirs it up!”

The new mom has also found herself in some seriously sticky situations over the last year.

“Becoming a mom to me means you have accepted that for the next 16 years of your life, you will have a sticky purse,” she says. “[Mine] is always filled with stuff I didn’t put there, from leftover Tootsie Rolls to wet wipes that got squished to the bottom. It makes me laugh every day.”

Home for the Holidays, featuring performances by Faith Hill, Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, Shakira, Carrie Underwood and Michael Franti, airs Wednesday on CBS.

— Melody Chiu