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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: Vegetarian

Boutique Bake Brown Bread Mix

john barry

Brown Bread

Hello there! It’s been way too long. I know we’ve been cooking at our house because somehow food keeps appearing on the table at dinner time.  I’m just not quite sure what or how. Sound familiar? Because it is STILL winter here, and I’ve still got napping little ones, I’ve taken to making soup from the weeks leftovers on Sunday afternoons. I’m kind of loving this little ritual.  The relative quiet. Doing something with my hands. Letting my mind wander. Giving my sense of smell, taste and feel something to do other than sit on the sidelines as they do for most of the week. I enjoy it without any of the guilt I associate with sitting on the couch and watching netflix or shopping online or any of the other things (that I also enjoy!) that I could be doing with my Sunday afternoons.

Not that I should feel guilty for any of it, just that, honestly, I do. I blame my Dad (as wonderful and amazing as he is. Hi Dad!).  When I was a kid, my dad would walk in the room and immediately observe his surroundings.  If he saw that you weren’t engaged in something “productive” - reading, homework, cleaning etc. he would blurt out “What are you doing!?!” with urgency and more than a little distress. I would have instant regret at my foolishness for relaxing so openly.  It’s hard to tell whether it nature or nurture - and it’s surely both - but as I grew older, I internalized this sense of “What are you doing!?!” to the point where I say it to myself constantly. Having kids, and no free time has definitely toned down that voice in my head, but it is always there, somewhere. As much as it drives me crazy, I appreciate it too.  For the fact that it drives me. Even if it’s just to make soup.

My Sunday soup ritual does not involve any recipes.  Just throwing leftovers into a pot with stock really. But I have been supplementing the soup with some great  breads and bread mixes from Paddy’s on the Square. Like me, the kids love brown bread and using a mix makes it so easy.  I can make the soup and bake bread all at the same time. And if we don’t eat the soup and bread for dinner, I take the soup with me to work for weekday lunches and we enjoy the bread as toast in the mornings.

A couple of weeks ago, I made this Brown Bread mix from a Company called Boutique Bake.  It was beyond easy to throw together and came with this nice little packet of seed mix to throw on top of the loaf for even more texture and flavor.  We loved this bread. The only downside was how fast this loaf went at our house.

*Serves 12 should be taken with a grain of salt. It took 10 minutes for my clan of 6 to finish this off.

*Serves 12 should be taken with a grain of salt. It took 10 minutes for my clan of 6 to finish this off.

Just add milk…

Just add milk…

one egg…

one egg…

and the crunchy seed topping. Then your work is done. Put it in the oven.

and the crunchy seed topping. Then your work is done. Put it in the oven.

Your only remaining job is to slather it with Irish butter and eat. Now, RELAX. You can do it!

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!

Hargadon’s Brown Bread

john barry



I made my own soda bread awhile back and it was brilliant. I was amazed that something so simple and easy to make could be so delicious. Then I made it with Odlum’s coarse wholemeal flour.  Predictably, it was even better.

I used a recipe that was given to my brother-in-law by a customer.  The recipe included her personal baking notes. I followed the recipe as altered by the notes.  Except that I didn’t bake it in a loaf pan because I was hungry and thought that it would be done quicker if I just shaped and baked it on a sheet pan. It still took 45 minutes but it was so worth it.  It reminded me why most soda bread in Ireland is made from this type of flour. More flavor, better texture.  Although not traditional, I sprinkled the loaf with poppy seeds before putting it in the oven.  

Once the bread was done, I immediately ate a huge hunk for lunch along with some Irish cheddar, a hard boiled egg and some tomato jam. It was the perfect simple lunch. I ate some later with peach-apricot jam from this little gem right across the way from Paddy's, creme fraiche and a cup of tea.  


Of course I had to look up Hargadon’s after tasting this bread credited to it.  According to

 Back in the mid 1800’s, when this pub first opened, Hargadons was a well-loved, local hostelry with a truly unique quality. Despite the prevalence of music bars and the myriad traditional musicians in the country, Hargadons remained a ‘quiet’ bar, devoid of music and dedicated to its position as a genuine sanctuary. This policy remained in situ until fairly recent times and despite it being relaxed in the last years, it remains free of television and devoted to conversation, story telling and of course good food. The pub has been at the heart of Sligo life for over one hundred and fifty years and despite being closed for some of them, has recently returned to its rightful place, close to the heart of Sligo folk and visitors. 

It sounds like the kind of place where this bread must have originated.

If you are baking this, you must make sure to preheat your oven before you start to get your ingredients together.  This bread comes together so fast that if you don’t, you will be waiting for your oven - not the worst problem to have.

Hargadon’s Brown Bread  

  • 3 cups coarse wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Beat the eggs and the buttermilk together in a small bowl.

Create a well in your dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk-egg mixture in.

Using a wooden spoon, or your hands (I found it was easiest to use my hands and that no additional buttermilk was necessary) mix the dry and wet ingredients until no dry flour remains.

Shape the dough into a round on a greased sheet pan and cut an X across the top. The X should go about ⅔ of the way deep into the loaf.

Top with poppy seeds (optional).

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cut off a hot slice, slather with salted butter and enjoy.

My lunch date. She's getting so big and talkative. 

My lunch date. She's getting so big and talkative.