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Call us at one of the numbers below or use the accompanying form to contact us.

The Irish Boutique - Long Grove, IL (847 634 3540)

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The Irish Boutique - Crystal Lake, IL (815 459 1800)

 

847 634 0339

The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

Cooking Blog

Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 

 

Easter Bunny Approved: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

john barry

How was your Easter? It was such a beautiful day here in Chicago, we felt so lucky to have a sunny, dry, warm holiday. Even more lucky to have our cousins in from Ireland. Paul’s cousin, her husband and three daughters are staying with us this week and we couldn’t be happier to have them. After an initial bout of shyness, Isla has been over-the-moon about getting to hang out with the big girls and Emmett’s been showing off every chance he gets. Eve has been getting exhausted due to all of the excitement and her new found ability to crawl, stand and just generally get around by herself. We can tell she loves it.

We had a nice sized crowd for Easter this year but I didn’t go overboard and everyone brought food so it felt effortless. Almost too effortless, it seemed almost like something was amiss because there wasn’t as much to do as usual. Not that I’m complaining.  It was fantastic. We had an Easter Egg hunt in the backyard, a turkey breast on the grill and a ham in the oven.  And for dessert I made one of my personal favorites, carrot cake.  

Checking out her stash. 

Checking out her stash. 

I’m a huge fan of carrot cake in its many forms.  I like it with nuts, raisins or both, coconut, even pineapple. This time however, I just kept it simple, no added ingredients, not too many spices, just classic carrot cake. I didn’t even decorate it. This cake got rave reviews at my office where most of the leftovers ended up on Monday (since it would be too hard to resist the temptation to eat cake for breakfast all week long). Maybe I’ll make it again for my birthday. 

"Coming though!"

"Coming though!"

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

For cake:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp table salt

3 cups grated carrots

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9” by 13” brownie pan by spraying it with cooking spray or baking spray.

Stir flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt together in a bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, I use my stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugars and eggs on medium-high until combined and pale in color, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once, about 5 minutes.

Switch the mixer to medium or medium low. Pour oil in a thin stream until all oil has been incorporated and emulsified.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat one minute more.

At a low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in carrots.

Pour batter into prepared pan and tap the pan against the counter a few times. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, rotating pan once.

Cool cake in pan for 2 hours before frosting.

For frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese , softened

5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened

¼ tsp table salt

1 Tbs sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

Beat together cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until well combined, scraping down the bowl once to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Add salt, sour cream and vanilla. Add powdered sugar, little by little, scraping down the bowl at least once, until smooth and creamy.

Healthy-ish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

john barry

Hi! I missed you. I was out of town for a few days last week to visit my dear friend Mika who was in the United States (all the way from Tokyo) for a conference. I’ve never been away from the kids and I missed them, but I had SO.MUCH.FUN.  Mika and I have been friends for 20 years or so and she and her sister Yuka are like the sisters I never had growing up. Seeing her face and hearing her voice makes me feel so content, like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. And time passes so quickly when we are together.

Never too old for a silly selfie. 

Never too old for a silly selfie. 

Now I’m in full-on Easter mode with a crowd of loved-ones joining us for Easter Sunday.  I’m planning on a lot of food, a backyard egg-hunt and a weeklong sleepover with the cousins. Everyone is so excited. For today however, nothing as sweet as Cadbury eggs and Peeps. We’re keeping it healthy-ish with grown up cookies that might be closer to a cookie-shaped granola bar than anything.

I don’t have a huge sweet tooth but now and then I like to have a not-too-sweet-treat with my tea.  The older I get the more I don’t like sweets that are really, really sweet. Maybe it’s my Japanese side coming out. In Japan, sweets are less sweet and usually eaten on their own, not after a meal. When a Japanese person bites into a piece of cake and proclaims it to be “amai” or “sweet” you can take that to mean that they don’t like it. When I was little I thought that was weird -  “didn’t they realize sweet was a good thing?” But now I understand.

Since my kids have normal, age appropriate palates - you won’t hear me humble bragging about their love of kale - I’ve all but given up sweets at home, everything we have is too cloying for my aging taste buds.   At work, I usually have some good dark chocolate and salted almonds which is the perfect snack when I want something sweet.  

Recently I’ve seen SO many recipes on pinterest and elsewhere for cookies without too much sugar that are packed with good stuff like oats and nuts and coconut.  We always have cookies shaped and ready to go in the freezer so that we can bake a just the amount we want - also so that if we finish off one batch we have to make another instead of being able to mindlessly eat too many. #mykindofwillpower

Truth be told, these are adult cookies in a way, not enough sugar to suit the tastes of my children but perfect for me.  The kids and Paul will eat them if there’s nothing more indulgent around. These days, when I make cookies for the kids I throw one of these on the tray for myself because I cannot resist a warm cookie.

Healthy-ish Oatmeal Cookies (Adapted from King Arthur Flour's recipe for Oatmeal Cookies)

  • ½ cup coconut oil

  • ½ cup coconut sugar

  • ⅓ cup agave nectar

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar*

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, quick cooking or old-fashioned

  • 1 cup whole hazelnuts

  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes or chips

  • Sea salt for sprinkling

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease one* or two baking sheets (or line with parchment or a silpat).  

  2. Beat together the coconut oil, sugar, agave, vanilla, salt, and vinegar until fairly smooth.

  3. Beat in the egg until smooth.

  4. Add the baking soda, cinnamon and flour, beating until well incorporated.

  5. Add the oats, followed by the chocolate chips, coconut and hazelnuts and stir until combined.

  6. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, drop dough in mounds onto the prepared baking sheets. I space them out generously but found that they don’t spread too much.

  7. Bake the cookies for about 14 minutes.

  8. Remove the cookies from the oven, sprinkle with sea salt and devour them while they are still warm.

* I almost never bake a whole batch of any cookies at once.  Instead, I use my cookie scoop to shape cookies which I freeze on a tray and store in freezer bags.  This way we can bake as many as we want at a time and always eat them fresh out of the oven.

Soda Bread Muffins with Jumbo Raisins

john barry

We got a bunk bed. Woo hoo! In preparation for a visit from our relatives from Ireland we went ahead and bought a bunk bed. The plan is to let our cousin's kids use it while they are here and then eventually move it upstairs for Emmett and Isla.  At least that was the plan, until I decided that I am never going to take it apart and put it back together again because the entire thing needs to be assembled with one of those little allen wrenches (I tried to use a power drill with a head that seemed to fit the slot on the screws, but none of them budged).  While assembly was straightforward enough, I NEVER want to see an allen wrench again. Oh well, at least we have a bunk bed downstairs, just in case. Isla loves climbing up there but doesn’t understand how to get down quite yet. Her method is to catapult herself off the top bunk face forward and hope she doesn’t hit the ground too hard. It’s a short distance down so this isn’t the worst thing. It’s actually pretty funny.

This last week everything was a little off kilter with me being sick and then Eve and all of us with our plans, plan, plans. I don’t even want to imagine what your calendar looks like when your kids are older than my little tots. Don’t tell me. It makes my head spin. Still, we ran out of muffins, and I was craving soda bread because St. Patrick’s Day came and went and I never had a slice. This state of events, led to google, which led to soda bread muffins. Which totally hit the spot, and, embarrassingly, were the only form of sustenance on which I single-handedly completed the assembly of the above-referenced never-to-be-disassembled-bunk-bed. Yep. These are powerful little nuggets of soda bread deliciousness.

The funny thing is, and if you’ve got kids you can probably totally relate, I bought these gorgeous multi-colored jumbo raisins at Trader Joe’s because my kids are crazy for raisins.  I put a whole bunch of them in the muffins and wouldn’t you know it, they HATE that there are raisins in the muffins. I’m obviously an idiot for thinking that a kid who gobbles raisins by the handful from a bag or little cardboard box would like them cooked, in muffins. What was I thinking?

Then again, maybe it was genius, maybe I want these muffins all for myself. Mwahahaha (evil laughter).

Soda Bread Muffins with Jumbo Raisins

Adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour

1 ½  cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

¾ cup White Whole Wheat Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼  teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 ½   cups jumbo raisins

1 large egg

1 cup full fat greek yogurt

⅛ cup water

7 tablespoons butter, melted;

sparkling white sugar, for topping

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt and water.

  3. In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and raisins.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring with a large spoon. Don’t overmix. It’s ok if the  batter is a little bit crumbly.

  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and top with sparkling white sugar, if desired.

  6. Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. To prevent the muffins from getting soggy bottoms remove them from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack.