Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe from the Petite Passions
One of my favourite comfort food recipes, this pasta uses red pesto, which has a more delicate and warming flavour than the normal green kind. (If you prefer green though don't forget to try my homemade version here). There are lots of different pesto varieties on the supermarket, and I usually use a sundried tomato one for this. You can also use any pasta shape you like; if you fancy something more exotic use some trofie as it holds the sauce really well. Like almost everything I post it is quick and easy to make; if you get a kettle on the boil as you get the ingredients together you can have it on the table in less than 20 minutes. This recipe is for two greedy people but can be stretched if you are not as hungry as us.
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Macaron Dress by Colette Patterns

Always going for something far more challenging than I am capable of achieving, I have attempted my first Macaron dress. This is an intermediate level knee length dress with short scalloped sleeves. Darts and pleats shape the bodice and skirt, which also included pockets. The reason I have had a go at something that is described as intermediate rather than beginner is an upcoming wedding. I would love to wear my own handmade dress and the Macaron pattern looks up to the job. This is my first attempt, with success leading onto a second wedding guest creation hopefully.

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Slimmer Meatballs

Slimmer Meatballs

Low in fat and low in carbohydrates this meal is perfect for a midweek meal, especially when you need something hot and filling that doesn't feel like 'diet' food. The effort required to prepare this is also minimal making it a complete winner for me. In order to reduce the fat and carbohydrates and still feel full I use a fair quantity of mince, substituting pork and beef with lean turkey, and serve with a green salad instead of pasta. (Seriously, you don't miss the pasta). One of the secrets to this is the long simmer for the sauce to add depth of flavour. I usually get this in the oven when I get in, then go do a workout and by the time I'm ready so are the meatballs. This feeds two greedy post work out people, but could definitely stretch much further (definitely up to four if you did put pasta with it).

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Champagne Sunday Brunch at The Landmark London

Champagne Sunday Brunch at The Landmark London - Review The Petite Passions

If you are looking for a truly unique eating experience then this really is worth a journey for. Situated in London’s Marylebone area the Landmark Hotel offers an elegant buffet filled with delicious food and unlimited champagne. The experience truly is worth every penny of the £90 per person price tag, and we will definitely be revisiting after our experience last week.
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Iconic Girl's Day Out in London: Audrey, Jo and the Ritz

A combination of iconic landmarks and timeless elegance created a perfect menu for our girl's day in London. It isn't often that I get to meet up with my capital dwelling cousin so when we heard about the Audrey Hepburn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery we used this as the main event in a day of quality time. We balanced more luxurious treats with what is freely available, and felt thoroughly chic and fabulous all day. The Petite Passions is all about the little things in life that we love and that make the everyday a bit special - and that is exactly what this combination is all about too.

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Essential guides for beginner bloggers

Tips for and how to start a blog

One of the best things about blogging is that anyone can create something amazing with relatively little in the way of experience or cash investment. All you need is an idea, some time and some help to set it up. Luckily the internet is jam packed with people who offer help in every realm imaginable, and bloggers who love to blog about blogging... so there is a lot out there to get you started. As a complete newbie to the blogosphere I needed how to guides that were really easy to follow, and could be used with little previous experience. It wasn't until I started looking for help that I realised how many ways I needed it, and how this advice can be used to create almost anything. Some articles and blogs have been more helpful than others so if you are thinking about starting your own blog you should definitely check these out. All of these sites are full of inspiring ideas that you will want to try out.

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Spanish Style Sausage Goulash

Low calorie, low carb and big on flavour, this sausage dish can be served on its own or with a light salad to make a filling dinner. This recipe serves two and comes in at around 500 calories per portion. If you want something more luxurious you can try the fully loaded version at the bottom. We love to have this when it's cold out, or when we are counting the calories but want something that feels indulgent.

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Turbo charge your weekends in 30 minutes

Turbo charge your weekends in minutes

If you feel like you could be getting more out of your weekends (or life in general!) then this could be for you. Setting aside a 30 minute slot on a Saturday morning has transformed my whole weekend, and is now starting to have a positive effect on the rest of my week too. I feel better both physically and mentally all because of the 30 minutes I set aside every Saturday morning. All around the country runners (and people like me) meet in our local parks for a free, timed 5k Park Run. This really is one of the best organisations I have encountered this year. Here's how something so simple can really make a positive difference to your life.

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How to make life work for you with Just One Thing

inding happiness how to take control of your life focus your energy stop feeling overwhelmed

Just One Thing can be a game changer if you are feeling overwhelmed and like you have too much to sort through. Sometimes we just have so many things going on it can be hard to keep on top of everything. Or we end up trying to do everything and end up tired, stressed out and unsatisfied. I used to get really frustrated at not feeling like I was doing anything well, or feeling like I wasn't up to it because I couldn't do it all. My husband was the one who gave me the best advice, and it turned my whole approach around.


As soon as I started doing this I began to have a much healthier outlook on life, and am more able to deal with unexpected situations as they arise. There are still things that need to be done but I feel more in control of them now. Here's how to make the most of it and why it helps you to be happier.

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Beginner dressmaking - learn to sew knit fabrics online workshop

Beginner dressmaking - learn to sew knit fabrics online workshop

My dressmaking skills fall firmly within the 'enthusiastic beginner' category, and I have been wanting to learn to sew with knit fabrics for a while, but have been a little apprehensive. Luckily one of my favourite sewing bloggers Tilly Walnes has created an online class precisely for beginner dressmakers who want to use jersey fabrics on a regular sewing machine. Included in the package is a pdf pattern along with a series of how to videos and helpsheets....basically the most hand holding you can possibly have from home! So I signed up, collected my materials, and started my adventures in knit fabrics. 
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Crispy Gnocchi with Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe

This recipe came about because I had an enormous bunch of basil that I needed to use, and we were both ravenous from having done our 5k park run in the morning. Sometimes you just need really filling food and you don’t want to have to wait hours for it. So I took some inspiration from my Italian roots, along with a tip I picked up from Nigella to create this. She once fried gnocchi as an alternative to roast potatoes, and since then I have never boiled them again as I find them too stodgy and claggy otherwise. If you think you don't like gnocchi try it like this and you will change your mind.

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Chicken Caesar Salad - light version

A healthier version of a classic. 
Although Chicken Caesar Salad is delicious it can be high in calories and fat. This is a lighter version to enjoy when you are watching calorie and fat intakes, and it definitely fills you up. I use French's ranch dressing as it has a lower calorie and fat content than other 'diet' dressings  that were on the shelves - even Light Mayonnaise (per 100g)! As it has a strong flavour a little goes a long way. Also drizzling this over the salad means you use less than when you dress the chicken on its own. I use pitta instead of croutons as it is lower in fat and do still have parmesan, but only a small grating over the top rather than lots of shavings. Instead of pancetta some crisped up parma ham provides a salty depth with far fewer calories and fat; lean bacon or turkey rashers would also work well.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Today is a day full of ends and beginnings - the end of summer and of my honeymoon break. The start of autumn and a new phase at work too. It would be very easy to be quite sad about the end of such a wonderful summer but I like to look on the positive side of life so here are the 5 things I am looking forward to about Autumn.

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Returning to clean eating with homemade tomato soup

After two weeks of enjoying a lot of delicious food whilst on holiday I need to kick start a return to clean eating. I love making warming and filling soups from fresh veggies, and this basic tomato soup is definitely one of my favourites. The basic recipe is so easy it can be adjusted in so many ways depending on what happens to be in the fridge, or how hot and spicy I want it. If I want super heat I leave the chilli in when the rest of the ingredients are blended together, but usually I take it out and slice it so it is less potent. A dollop of low fat protein like creme fraiche, soured cream or even cream cheese helps with feeling fuller for longer too. Even better news is that it is incredibly simple to prepare, requiring the bare minimum of attention and labour.
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Thoughts from this week

Il Dolce Far Niente

Obviously thoughts this week come from having a lot of time to think whilst away on holiday. Yesterday was the half way point and we started to think about everything we wanted to do with our remaining week....kind of makes you wonder what happened to all that time that was stretching ahead as we left the UK. I also started to get a little anxious and realised that I tend to suffer not so much from FOMO but FOWT. Fear of wasting time.
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7 travel make up essentials to make the most of sunkissed skin

Trying to pack light whilst having products that would make the most of sunkissed skin presented a new challenge for me this year. Instead of packing my whole make up drawer I had a look around for travel friendly products to suit bronzed skin. Using smaller sizes and eyeshadow compacts, and keeping within a rose gold theme, here is what I found to take as my capsule make up collection for whilst I am away and to look awesome when I get back too.
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Thoughts from this week

Notebook love

Getting ready for holidays is a lot of work! It has made me appreciate all the different ways that I use to stay (or try to stay) organised. Our holiday was booked so long ago that I have forgotten most of the details so have been going back through these, finding emails I filed away 'safely' for details that at the end of the day are just better written down. I'm finding that I have to write pretty much everything down now. I have four notebooks on the go (two for work, one for sewing, one for blogging), as well as an Evernote app on my phone.

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How to make life work for you part 1 AKA 5 reasons why I'm happy the tubes were on strike

This year I have really been working on positivity and seeing the good in situations that would normally frustrate me. I have developed this now to such a habit that I was happy that the tubes were on strike last Thursday. It was the best day ever. Last year I would have been annoyed the whole day, but now I've found a way of turning negative situations upside down.

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A Traditional Afternoon Tea at Luton Hoo, with some Spa time

It's Afternoon Tea Week! I love a good afternoon tea, and popped along to Luton Hoo last week to enjoy tea and some spa time with a friend.

Every couple of months or so my friend Rhea and I indulge in some relaxation therapy and a leisurely lunch as we catch up on what has been going on in our daily lives, ask each other's advice and generally recharge our minds and bodies. After a little bit of looking around locally, and on the search to try something different, we found ourselves at Luton Hoo. This had everything we wanted in one place - relaxing spa, delicious food and beautiful grounds to explore if they took our fancy.
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Thoughts from this week

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Eating out...San Carlo Cicchetti in Piccadilly

Classically Italian in the heart of Piccadilly.

Though perilously close to the tourist throng of Leicester Square, San Carlo Cicchetti is an Italian restaurant that is definitely worth visiting if you are looking for a relaxed and authentic eating experience. The window display invites you in by showcasing the produce that makes up the menu; huge hams hanging above fresh fish, shellfish, fruit and vegetables. We dropped by for a drink on an evening in London and ended up returning for a meal having been tempted by the dishes we saw being served up around us. Coming from an Italian family we enjoy revisiting traditional specialities that aren't usually seen on the menus of larger chains. We weren’t disappointed!

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Sunday Sewing ... Easy Summer Maxi Dress

Easy no pattern summer maxi dressNo pattern empire line maxi dress. 

In anticipation of some sun this summer I attempted to sew a maxi dress without a pattern from fabric I had left over from an earlier make. Though I had found this viscose tricky to manage when sewing it felt so nice on I had to find a way of using it for the hot weather. After toying around with some skirt draping I decided to take the opportunity to make a maxi dress as I have never found one in the shops that fits me (all far too long). Now I have ended up with a comfortable, summery dress perfect for my upcoming holiday.

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Simple, authentic Italian pizza

easy pizza recipe
Always a winner, we love having pizzas as a weekend treat. Here's how to create a taste of Italy at home, and some favourite toppings and top tips for awesome pizzas.
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Holiday countdown: One fortnight.

The two week countdown until we go on our honeymoon/first anniversary holiday has begun. Here are the 5 ways I am going to prepare my body for the beach. Though I generally try to eat healthily and exercise, all systems are go this fortnight so I can really enjoy myself whilst we are away. Not that I expect to look like Ellie Goulding in two weeks, but any head start I can get in the next two weeks will help. We are going on an all inclusive holiday so these two weeks are going to be obliterated whilst we are away. My body is going to need as much help as possible on both sides!

I find my results are about 80% nutrition based, so while I step up the exercise, it's what I eat that really makes a difference.

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My easy, hardly any ingredients, totally customisable protein smoothie recipe

I have smoothies or protein shakes for breakfast every day. I use commercial ones when I am working, but when I am off work and have a little more time I like to mix it up with some made smoothies. I do find that lots of the recipes I come across need lots of ingredients that I either don't normally buy, or won't use all of. I also have a bit of a sweet tooth so tried to come up with something more dairy than veggie tasting. This recipe is focused on protein to keep me fuller for longer, and is a base that can be easily customised for what ever I feel like that day.

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Thoughts from this week

This week I have been luck to have a week off work so have been taking time to stop and smell the roses. Work has been really manic so just stopping and thinking about other things... pretty, lovely and beautiful things, has been a real refresher.

So I have been mainly getting to understand the world of lifestyle blogging! It is so much more intricate than I thought when I started, but I love learning new things and have really enjoyed exploring what is out there. As you can see I have been busily adding content so my blog is a bit less bare. This will definitely even out when I establish some routine to my life again (been off work this week). One routine I will be aiming for will be weekly thoughts, inspirations and appreciations. So this is my first!

I have never really got involved in social media before, so a whole new world has opened up through blogging. I am only just getting the hang of how to manage all these streams (I want to follow everyone!), and how to manage the programs themselves! Anyone who has followed will see that I have been accidentally doubling up all over, and posting things with lots of spelling mistakes as I am moving a lot faster than my mobile phone....does it not realise I use the word 'love' a lot more than 'live' yet?

I have been making the most of being off work by finishing up my half finished, or daydream, sewing projects. Over the past few months I have acquired a fair amount of fabric and patterns...recently I haven't had time to make but there is always time to shop to ease my crafty itchings! There are so many things I want to make I get a bit impatient to get them all done, and it's nice to have been able to just do the maxi dress I've been thinking about, and to start my Liberty print pyjamas (inspired by their nightwear range, using a print I bought ages ago). These pyjamas won't be featuring any time soon though as they are proving really tricky. But I have proudly mastered started learning how to sew without a pattern, hacking patterns and working with chiffon.

Being off work has also given me a chance to actually cook something properly for a change - not just because it is quick! Pizza recipe coming up soon...

Next week I am looking forward to

  • Spa time with my good friend Rhea. With afternoon tea.
  • Seeing Elvis. Well, the exhibition in the O2 to be precise with my pops (his Father's Day present).
  • Getting ready for our upcoming holiday/honeymoon/first anniversary.
  • Getting my work face back on and blitzing the to do list.
  • Not being a social media newbie/clutz. Maybe sort out my facebook page?
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Learning to sew - Delphine Skirt

My first solo sewing project - the Delphine skirt with a lining.

Having thoroughly examined Tilly's book Love at First Stitch and the Tilly and the Buttons website I decided to try making a skirt, and ambitiously settled on including a lining. Given this was the first garment I have ever made on my own it really was ambitious - I had never put in a zip before either but decided the step by step guides on line and in the book would be enough.

New skills
  • Transferring a pattern
  • Choosing fabric
  • Inserting an invisible zip
  • Inserting a lining

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Learning to sew - quick and easy shell top

New Look K6217

I saw this peach skin chiffon whilst window shopping on Backstitch and had to have it! I loved the warm coral colour and parrot design, and knew I could make something that was holiday worthy out of it. Being new to working with sheers I wanted as few seams as possible, and altered New Look K6217 into a really simple top!

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Busy girl's bronzing - three ways to self tan fast

express tan reviews

Finding four hours in the week where I can wait for a self-tan to develop without washing my hands, or rubbing off against something, is nearly impossible for me. Yet there are times when I know I’m going to need some artificial help to make my skin a little less pasty and a little more glowing, usually ahead of a wedding or similar on a Saturday. I am never brave enough to try instant tan products as I am usually in pale colours and just don’t trust them not to rub off! I once tried (as suggested by a colleague) to just wear the tan and do what I normally do (shop, cook, work…) and wash it off later. This was disastrous with patches everywhere! Thankfully self-tan producers are now creating more and more express products which I am increasingly addicted to. Here are three I have tried out.

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Christenings - 5 easy reception details

Here are a few details that you can easily and quickly put into place to make your guest reception a little bit special (and affordable too!).

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Beginning dressmaking? Three ways master the basics

Dressmaking class for beginners

If you are considering taking up dressmaking as a hobby have a look at these three ways to learn and get making quickly.

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Trying out...6 piece Discover Laura Geller Collection from QVC

I couldn’t resist the chance to see what this foundation was like and have taken this handy little set of travel sized make up essentials with me on my various family celebrations this month… compliments such as ‘You look really well’ to ‘Your skin looks glowing’ to ‘I thought work was hard; it clearly suits you!’

It really was all down to the make up.

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Welcome to The Petite Passions and your blogger


Welcome to The Petite Passions; a lifestyle blog devoted to the small things that make life a little bit lovelier everyday… that for a short period can become an all encompassing passion… and my journeys through them.
So my first post. I suppose should be a little bit about yours truly as the rest of my blog will definitely make more sense then.

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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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