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

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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. 


Filtering by Category: Sides

Roasted Honey-Balsamic Tri-Color Carrots

john barry

roasted carrots

We’ve actually been cooking quite a bit in the new year - I guess there’s usually more cooking going on around here in the winter. Isla has become a great little helper in the kitchen these days. She loves to set up my pour over coffee pot each night and to make her own breakfast in the morning. A toasted english muffin with jam, cream cheese and butter (in that order)! She likes to use a knife, a real one, “by MYSELF!” she warns, if my peering over her shoulder gets too intense. Emmett is taking a cooking class after school on Tuesdays, which makes me so, so happy. None of the kids are interested in watching Top chef with Paul and I yet but there’s definitely growing interest in cooking. Fingers crossed that at least one of our kids likes cooking enough to make dinner for us someday (the sooner the better).

This honey is amazing! It has a strong flavor that is the pure essence of honey and makes other honey seem like it tastes watered down. I’m so glad I have one more jar in by cupboard. Whew.

This honey is amazing! It has a strong flavor that is the pure essence of honey and makes other honey seem like it tastes watered down. I’m so glad I have one more jar in by cupboard. Whew.

Getting home from work and getting dinner on the table within the next 45 minutes or so can be tough but we manage with a lot of help from my arsenal of quick and easy recipes, leftovers and pizza every Wednesday night!  Weekends are when most of the more time consuming cooking takes place, but I’ve been finding that even when I have time to try a new recipe or take on a cooking “project” the dishes my family likes the most are the simple ones.  


Last weekend I picked up some tri-colored carrots from Trader Joe’s based on looks alone. I’m so shallow. I didn’t have a plan for them but figured they would make a pretty side dish.  It’s true isn’t it, that we eat with the eyes first? So on Sunday I roasted them in a hot oven before drizzling them with Scottish honey from Paddy’s and some good balsamic vinegar, with just a sprinkling of sesame seeds. They were totally delicious.

Roasted Honey-Balsamic Tri-Color Carrots


  • 1 bag tri-color carrots or about 16 ounces of carrots

  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt to taste

  • 1-2 teaspoons honey

  • 1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds


  • preheat oven to 400F

  • cut carrots in half length wise and place on baking sheet

  • drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt

  • roast for about 40 minutes, flipping carrots over once at the 20 minute mark

  • place carrots on serving dish, drizzle with honey and balsamic and sprinkle with sesame seeds and more salt

yuchoy and carrots

This recipe reminded me not to feel bad about our quick weeknight dinners because those are the dishes my family probably likes best anyway. More importantly, as long as we are eating together, we are lucky.  Dinner doesn’t need to be fancy to be good. So now, my cooking resolution for 2019 is to find more quick and easy (yet still delicious) recipes for weeknight dinners. Hopefully I can come up with at least a short list of small effort, big reward recipes this year. If you know of any, please share them with us!

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Thyme and Honey

john barry

Kabocha.  Please don't peel it.  Eve only has six teeth and she can eat the skin no problem. 

Kabocha.  Please don't peel it.  Eve only has six teeth and she can eat the skin no problem. 

My father-in-law and a group from the stores recently got back from a trip to Ireland. I haven’t had a chance to catch up with them yet but it sounds like it was the trip of a lifetime. I did see a few photos and it looks like the weather held up for them, and they were kept busy traveling around the country, seeing the sights and partaking in the local fare. Jealous as I am of their adventures, it’s tough not to enjoy the summer in Chicago, especially with little kids who are so full of spirit and energy. The rainy weather put a damper on our outdoor cooking plans for a few days so we improvised with some salads other easy to throw together meals.

Are you familiar with Kabocha squash? It’s a delicious Japanese squash that is similar to a Butternut but sweeter with a creamier texture. I usually pick one up from the Korean grocery store by my house but I've seen them at all kinds of stores, even Trader Joe's.  Perhaps the best thing about Kabocha is that you can eat the skin.  Even Japanese people eat it – which is a big deal because compared to Americans, the Japanese peel everything! Kids usually love Kabocha because it’s sweet and mild tasting. Like Butternut squash, the Kabocha is a very versatile vegetable.  Sometimes I make a Kabocha cheesecake pie instead of a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  It’s also good in Thai-style curries, but the most common way we eat it at my house is simply roasted.  

Greek yogurt topped with roasted Kabocha, chopped almonds and honey. A beautiful, nutritious breakfast. 

Greek yogurt topped with roasted Kabocha, chopped almonds and honey. A beautiful, nutritious breakfast. 

Roasted Kabocha with Thyme and Honey

1 Kabocha squash, sliced with skin left on

2 tbs fresh thyme, chopped

2 tbs honey

2 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Before mixing the slices up on the tray to make sure they are evenly coated. 

Before mixing the slices up on the tray to make sure they are evenly coated. 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the Kabocha slices on a large baking sheet.

Drizzle oil and honey over the Kabocha slices and sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper.

Gently mix with your hands until all of the pieces are evenly coated.

Place baking sheet in the oven and cook for 12 minutes. Flip Kabocha slices and cook for another 12 to 20 minutes until Kabocha has softened (there should be very little resistance when poked with a toothpick or fork) and begun to caramelize.

If you are not eating this right away you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

There are so many ways to serve this. Here are some ideas:

Crostini - on brown bread with goat cheese, a drizzle of honey and sprinkled with sea salt

Breakfast - with granola, nuts or muesli and greek yogurt

Salad - with feta, arugula, Dijon vinaigrette and lentils or chicken

Dessert - as a topping for vanilla ice cream with miso caramel sauce

Enjoy! And enjoy your Holiday weekend! 



Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

john barry

Hello there! We've had such nice weather here in Chicago. Although summer doesn’t officially start for another couple of weeks, it feels like it’s already here. We bought a giant inflatable pool for the kids and finally planted some herbs and vegetables outside. I’ve lived in the Midwest long enough that I no longer really mind winter, I even enjoy some of its comforts, but summer is still where it’s at. I’m so excited to eat most of our meals outside and to pack picnic dinners for the park this year.  

Also, I LOVE our house in the summer. It’s hard to explain, but the layout makes it almost feel like you are outside when the windows are open. The house has old bones but it was redone before we bought it in 2012.  Now, instead of the traditional bungalow style with several individual rooms on the ground floor, it’s all open.  It’s breezy and bright, and usually full of the sounds of little ones going back and forth from the yard - all covered in sand and water.  Naturally, all of this makes it easier to enjoy cooking inside, even when it’s beautiful out there.

Recently, I made this delicious, yet almost embarrassingly healthy meal for myself.

It was a combination of prepared fish and vegetables that I bought at the Korean grocery store and a new creation, one that I will make again and again.  Cauliflower “fried rice”.  Truthfully, I wasn’t trying to be so virtuous. This recipe was born out of necessity.

I was all set with my prepared foods from the Korean store and some brown rice in the rice cooker.  I  chopped up a shallot, some garlic and green onion to make a quick fried rice when, 40 minutes later, the rice was still cooking and I was STARVING. I had some frozen riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s in the freezer so I grabbed that and a frying pan, and got to work. Within about five minutes I had this lovely “fried rice” and my brown rice was still nowhere near ready.  

I could eat this stuff with an egg on it for breakfast, in a salad, with some Japanese curry (yum!), or Vietnamese pork chops, even meatballs and sauce.  It's unbelievably versatile.  

Here’s how you do it.

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Serves 4

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp sesame oil

3 heads of garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

3 green onions, chopped

Salt to taste

1 bag of riced cauliflower*, defrosted and drained if frozen

1 cup peas, defrosted and drained if frozen (I usually just run hot water over them to defrost)

*You can buy this either fresh or frozen at Trader Joe’s.  You can also make it yourself by taking a head of cauliflower and blitzing it in your food processor until the pieces approximate the size of grains of rice.

Heat oils over medium high heat in large pan. Add riced cauliflower and saute about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and shallot and cook about 2 minutes.  Add peas and saute until warmed through, about 1-2 more minutes. Add salt to taste.  Voila! That’s it.

Now go outside and play!