11 of Indy’s Most Respected Women in Food Share Their Favorite Recipes

From beef stew and Bolognese sauce to peanut butter cheesecake truffles and Japanese fried rice, here’s what the city’s top female chefs, restaurateurs, and bloggers are cooking at home.
chopping herbs

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Since Indiana’s bars and restaurants are closed to in-person patrons in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of us have started cooking more at home and are in need of some inspiration. Thankfully, some of Indy’s hottest female chefs, restaurant owners, and food bloggers are offering up their personal recipes—written in their own unique styles—to get us through sheltering-in-place a little more deliciously.



Abbi Merriss“Since I’ve been at home during this pandemic, I’ve somewhat gone back to my roots: meals that stick to your stomach and preparing them for more than one person. With that said though, I’ve realized it’s hard for me to meal prep for two—that has been my learning curve through this thus far, I always prep for 20! We’ve been eating baked pork chops, salads, tons of pasta (i.e., bucatini, Italian sausage, herbed tomato sauce, lots of cheese and garlic bread: Sooo many nights). The other evening I decided to make another one pot meal that I can portion and freeze for later consumption. 

I made Beef Stew. Duh. Finally found a top round roast at a local grocery. I had the staples in my cupboard so it just made sense.”

Abbi Merriss’ Beef Stew

Recipe is for 4 hungry adults


  • 3 lbs. beef top round, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • Evoo
  • 2 yellow onions, medium diced
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 2 cups red wine that you can drink and cook with
  • 1/4 lb. unsalted butter
  • 1 bag carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1 qt mushrooms, your choice, cleaned, cut into appropriate size 
  • 1 head celery, cleaned, cut into 1/4”
  • 3-4 large Idaho potatoes, medium diced
  • 1 1/2 qt beef stock
  • Soy sauce, 1/4 cup
  • Tabasco, 6 dashes
  • Fresh oregano, 2 T
  • Fresh sage, 2 T
  • Dijon, 2 T
  • Bay leaf, 4 each
  • Red pepper flake, 3-4 T defending on how spicy you like it
  • Peas, 4 cups (frozen, then thawed), garnish or just throw them in the stew
  • Ramp kraut, garnish
  • Fried shallots, garnish
  • Buttered bread/rolls, garnish
  • Lots of ground black pepper, garnish


Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Coat cubed beef in flour and seasoning. When oil is heated add floured beef. Stir so to not burn bottom of pot. All of this cooking should be over medium heat. Once slightly browned add onion, garlic, and butter. Sauté until a little fond is built in the bottom of the pot. Add red wine to deglaze and stir to break the fond up while wine is reducing. Once wine has reduced by half, add carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and celery. Stir again. Then add the stock, soy, Tabasco, herbs, Dijon, and pepper flake. Cover and let simmer for a little long while. Stir frequently. May take up two-four hours, depending on the heat. Make sure the beef is tender. When finished, garnish with what you want. Cottage cheese and an egg is an awesome component for breakfast leftovers! 

Bluebeard & Amelia’s offer zero contact curbside carryout meals, wine & beer Wednesday through Sunday. Order here from a daily changing menu.



“I started making Bolognese a year and a half ago at Spoke & Steele to utilize all of our charcuterie trim we always had from our very popular boards. We typically grind the charcuterie and make our breakfast gravy with the addition of sausage. I started making the Bolognese with ground beef, Italian sausage, and charcuterie trim and it became a huge hit in the restaurant paired with Nicole Taylor’s fresh pasta.

This recipe is a very simple and delicious version, omitting the charcuterie trim. I made this at home last week and have also taken it a step further to repurpose in multiple different recipes. After enjoying the Bolognese on top of fresh delicious pasta, there are lots of ways to repurpose it like adding cooked rice, a touch more beef stock if necessary, and sautéed peppers to create stuffed peppers. I mixed some pecorino cheese to the mixture, stuffed the bell peppers, and baked them in an oven covered for about 35-40 minutes or until the internal temperature was 160 degrees. Lastly, you can make a simple minestrone soup with white beans or chickpeas and then add the Bolognese to the soup when you add canned tomatoes. This simple vegetable soup is now a hearty flavorful Italian sausage vegetable stew—try it on top of rice, or just as soup.

The biggest thing I have taken away from the crisis we are dealing with now is to repurpose everything. I’m not much for leftovers, but if you have something amazing, you can usually use it as a base for another recipe. We gave the Bolognese minestrone to our staff and I tried to tell them how to stretch it into multiple meals instead of ‘just’ soup.”

Erin Gillum’s Bolognese


  • 1 cup carrots, small diced
  • 1 large white onion, small diced
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1lb Italian sausage
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ bottle of red wine, dry
  • 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes (about 56oz. total)
  • 1 cup thyme, parsley, basil, oregano (equal parts)
  • 1 pint beef stock (optional) 


Sauté onions, carrots, and garlic. When vegetables are soft and tender, add the ground beef and sausage. Once meat is browned, add red wine and let simmer to reduce liquid by half. Add milk and stir until well combined. Crush whole tomatoes by hand and add with the juice to the pot, along with the beef stock. Let simmer, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing burns to the bottom of the pot, for 45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes of simmering, add all chopped herbs. 

Spoke & Steele is currently offering no contact carryout for both lunch and dinner, as well as stocking and selling fresh grocery items and baked goods that can be purchased. All gratuities are being split amongst staff during the COVID-19 crisis.



“During this time I am trying my best to stay busy around my new house and continue baking every couple of days to keep my hands busy and my mind inspired. It has been a bit of a shock to my brain to go from working 60 hours a week to being unemployed. Like most restaurant industry workers, I have been placed on indefinite unpaid leave. I am trying to get creative with my skills and am currently workshopping some virtual baking classes for small groups of adults or kids to connect online and learn something new, and I should have more details about those opportunities soon, so feel free to follow along @Hattiemcdaniel on Instagram and look out for future class offerings as well as some free IGTV baking demos! Here is my favorite cream cheese mousse recipe:”

Cream Cheese Mousse
  • 1 lb. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • Cream together until smooth and no lumps of cream cheese remain. 
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Whip cream to soft peaks; fold in to cream cheese mixture. 
  • Use as a fruit topping, eat with a spoon, or freeze for no-bake cheesecake ice cream bars!  

Cunningham Restaurant Group is open for carryout at select locations. To see a list of options and menus visit crgdining.com.



“Yakimeshi (Japanese fried rice) is best used with leftover ingredients, so you don’t have to go out to shop to make this, and you can use this recipe as a base and add your own touch. I love to add kimchi to make it a little spicy and add a Korean flavor to it! Any leftover meats, even lunchmeat works if you want to make it hearty.”

Yakimeshi (Japanese fried rice)


  • 3-4 cups of cooked rice (leftover rice works best)
  • 1 carrot, chopped—about 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 onion, chopped—about 1 cup
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil (any oil works)
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of shelled edamame (you can substitute peas or chopped green beans)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • Chopped green onions or parsley for garnish


Heat your pan and add the sesame oil. Sauté the onions and carrots.

Before the onions and carrots cook through all the way, crack 2 eggs in the pan and stir.

While the eggs are still runny, add your leftover white rice and stir well—you want the eggs to be hugging each pearl of rice.

Keep mixing until you see no more white, than add your edamame and soy sauce.

Now add in the butter—adding butter at the end is the secret!

Mix the yakimeshi well, until the butter is all melted, and add salt and pepper to taste.  

This recipe is vegetarian, but you can always add leftover meat—I like to add chicken or shrimp with mine!

Asaka is currently open for carryout Wednesday-Sunday; message on Instagram @asakaindy before 4pm or call (317) 576-0556 after 4:15pm to place your order.



“I have been making these nut butter balls each Sunday, and keeping them in the fridge to snack on all week long. They’re such an easy and quick snack for the mid-morning, or in the late afternoon when I’ve been on calls all day and need a boost of energy. They also satisfy my sweet tooth, but are chock full of protein and healthy fats at the same time!”

Nut Butter Balls 
  • 1 cup nut butter of your choice (almond, cashew or peanut)  
  • 1 cup oats 
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds 
  • 1/4 cup agave or honey

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; stir together. Mold into balls (usually I make them golf ball size). Refrigerate. 

Pro tip: You can layer them on top of each other in Tupperware by using parchment paper to separate the layers. That way they don’t stick together! 



“I married a chef so I wouldn’t have to cook, but with everything going on right now we are certainly taking turns cooking these days. Our business had to completely pivot overnight and we are working hard to make sure Indy stays well fed! With two kids out of school and daycare, and us both working, we like to spend time with the kids and not in the kitchen right now. So…here’s Mollie’s super-simple 10 minute dinner:” 

Grilled Fischer Farms Bavette with Sautéed Fava Beans

Let steak come to room temperature—bavette is my favorite cut because it’s flavorful and super easy to cook. 

Season steak with coarse ground salt and pepper and olive oil. I also love to use FoodLoveTog blends on my steaks. 

Grill for three minutes on each side. 

Toss fava beans in husks in mandarin olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauté in butter for five minutes. Top with grated parmesan, lemon zest, and coarse ground salt. You eat them like edamame. 

Super-simple steak horsey sauce: Two cups crème fraîche, one fresh squeezed lemon, salt, two heaping spoonfuls of prepared horseradish. Stir and serve with steak. 

Goose the Market is open for online pre-orders with no-contact pick up or delivery, and Smoking Goose is offering online ordering with pickup and delivery options.



“I am currently baking all of the things. I have made 4 batches of cookies, my own sourdough starter, and zucchini bread. I’m hoping to take a stab at croissants (never made them from scratch before), and I also plan to make biscuits, banana bread and definitely more cookies. So many more cookies! It brought me so much joy to make cookies, buy a few bottles of wine and make deliveries to my friends. We sat on a Zoom call, ate cookies, and drank wine while we celebrated some birthdays.

My peanut butter cheesecake truffle is an excellent thing to make with the kiddos and they store well in the fridge. I’d love to hear if you make them!”

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Truffles
  • 1 16 oz. jar of crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil 

In a large bowl, cream peanut butter, and cream cheese with a hand mixer or in a food processor. Slowly add powdered sugar on low speed. The mixture should come together easily but have a little crumble to it. It should NOT be super smooth and silky. It will not hold together well if it’s that consistency. Add more powdered sugar by the tablespoon to reach proper consistency, if needed. Place the bowl in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to freeze completely.

Remove mixture from freezer and form into balls using a medium cookie scoop. Scoop mixture into your hands and quickly roll into balls. Place balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place balls back into the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

While the balls are chilling, combine chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small bowl. Microwave chocolate in 30-second intervals until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove balls from freezer and dip balls into chocolate using a fork. Place balls back on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place back in the freezer for 5 minutes.

These truffles are good in an airtight container for up to 1 week.



“Well, as much as I was baking at home, all of my baking is being done at the shop. We’re short staffed and working like crazy. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to bake at home as that is basically my paperwork time and then crash to get up crazy early! If I did have time, I would love to make pizzas at home, so here is a great pizza dough recipe.”

Pizza Dough
  • .75 oz. yeast
  • 29 oz. cold water
  • 1 oz. sea salt
  • 1 oz. sugar
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. bread flour 
Straight Dough Mixing Method
  1. In a mixing bowl, place in the yeast and water and dissolve with your hand. Top with the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil.
  2. Using a dough hook, mix on 1st speed for 3 minutes, then 2nd speed for 7 minutes.
  3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise for 1 hour, covered.
  4. Punch down, and scale into 16 oz. pieces (this makes a large pizza). Round each piece.
  5. Bench rest for 30 minutes or refrigerate until needed.
  6. Roll, toss or press out each piece of dough into a circle, leaving a thicker border around the edge of the dough.
  7. Place on a pizza stone or parchment-lined pan, sprinkled with cornmeal.
  8. Apply tomato sauce, toppings and cheese.
  9. Place in the oven and bake until bubbling.
  10. Bake at 450 degrees.

Circle City Sweets is currently open in City Market, selling pastries, desserts, breads, soups and lunch service (Circle City Soups), and coffee (Mile Square Coffee). For curbside pickup, call (317) 632-3644 to place an order. They are also at the Carmel Farmer’s Market and on Marketwagon.com, and are doing deliveries.



“These are odd times lately, but cooking at home more often has really allowed me to be more playful and reflect on why I like cooking so much in the first place. Sharing a meal nourishes the connections between people and that is what I love so much. It has been wonderful to prepare meals for my family and with my partner at home. He and I met as line cooks working at the same restaurant several years ago; another connection nourished by the common experience of making good food. Taking the time to appreciate and deepen the bonds I have with the people around my dinner table during all this uncertainty has been priceless.”


Caitlin Wilson’s Chipotle Braised Pork Shoulder with Creamy Polenta and Kale

Serves 4-6 

Total prep and cook time: 4 hours

“I love this recipe because it uses ingredients I always have in my pantry and refrigerator. It is hearty, flavorful, and in my mind, quintessential comfort food. I’ve made this dish twice within the last 10 days because I’m not going to the store as often due to the stay at home movement and social distancing practices—my pantry has been my best friend.

Note: Feel liberated to customize this recipe to what you have. I normally make this recipe with pork shoulder because it is such an economical cut and freezes well, but it is equally as good with a beef roast. Instant grits can be used if that’s what you have on hand, simply prepare to package directions and add the remaining ingredients.”


For the Braised Pork:

  • 2 ½ -3 pounds boneless pork shoulder/Boston butt roast
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano           
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pureed tomato sauce
  • 1 (7 oz.) tin of chipotles in adobo
  • 1 (32 oz.) box of vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable or olive oil

For the Creamy Polenta:

  • 6 Cups water
  • 1 ½ cups polenta
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn kernels, liquid drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Sautéed Kale:

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Cups kale, stems removed, torn/shredded into bite sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the Braised Pork:

  1. Trim your pork shoulder of any excess fat. Cube the meat into 1 ½ to 2-inch pieces. Place the pork onto a plate or bowl and set aside.
  2. Dice the onion into quarter inch pieces and leave on your cutting board.
  3. Place a heavy, lidded pot on the stovetop, remove the lid and place it to the side. Put a bit of oil in the bottom of the pan and heat on medium-high until the oil shimmers. Sear the meat cubes on all sides until browned, working in batches if needed. Return the meat to its plate and set aside.
  4. Add a splash more oil to the pan, turn the heat to medium-low and add the onions. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until they are translucent. Scrape any meaty bits off of the bottom as you cook the onions. Deglaze the pan with a splash of the broth. 
  5. Return the meat and any juices it has produced to the pan, sprinkle in the seasonings, and add the tomato sauce.
  6. Remove one of the chipotle peppers from the tin and chop finely on your cutting board. Scrape up the finely chopped pepper and add it to the pot along with about 1 Tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the tin. You can always adjust the number of chipotle peppers to your preferred spice level later. 
  7. Pour the broth into the pot to just cover the meat; you may not need all the broth. Stir the mixture and bring it to a boil, cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the meat mixture for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste the sauce after about an hour to see if it needs any more seasonings or chipotle. Keep in mind that you will be reducing the sauce later, so the flavors will concentrate.
  8. After the 2 hours, remove the lid and bring the heat back to around medium. Cook the meat until it is tender and the sauce is reduced. Don’t be afraid to really get in there with your spoon at this point to break up and shred the meat chunks. This should take another 30 minutes. If the mixture looks like it is becoming too dry, add a splash more broth or water. Taste the mixture for seasoning.

For the Polenta:

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot and sprinkle in some salt.
  2. While whisking, slowly pour the polenta into the water until it is all moistened and any lumps have been broken up.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the polenta grits, whisking often, until it begins to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Cover the pan and cook 20-30 minutes, whisking every 5-6 minutes. If the mixture gets too thick to whisk, add a bit more water to loosen it slightly.
  5. Polenta is cooked when the grains are tender and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the butter, milk, cheese, and corn kernels. Cook another 8-10 minutes. The polenta should be somewhat loose and flowy.

For the Sautéed Kale:

  1. Place a skillet on medium high heat and add the butter, swirling to melt.
  2. When the butter is foamy, add the kale, a handful at a time, and stir until slightly wilted but still bright. Some popping and cracking is normal. 3-5 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. 

To Serve:

Place a ladle of the creamy polenta into a bowl. Spoon the lovely, saucy, meat mixture into the center of the polenta. Put the kale on the top and dig in.

Leftovers? Warm up the polenta in the morning with a splash more milk to make it the consistency of oatmeal and top with an over easy egg, bacon, and some sliced avocado. The meat, rewarmed, makes a delicious ‘pulled pork’ sandwich with a bit of south-of-the border flair. Chipotles in adobo are wonderful blended into any condiment, dip, dressing, or marinade you like.



“So, this is going to sound crazy because I have been in the restaurant business for a long time, but I am not a trained chef and I never claim to be. What I do when I get home from work is pretty simple: I get the BBQ grill going, even if it’s 20 degrees out, and my favorite thing to grill is either filet mignon or grilled chicken and some sweet potatoes, and then I make a nice arugula salad to go along with it, maybe with some chèvre and some fresh blueberries. I just try to keep it really simple, but healthy as well.”

Grilled Filet Mignon
  • Remove filets from the fridge.
  • Lightly brush with olive oil and season with kosher salt, pepper and garlic salt.
  • Allow the filets to get close to room temperature.
  • Preheat grill to high heat (450-500˚) for 15 minutes.
  • Clean grates with grill brush once grill is hot.
  • Place filet on grill, close lid. After 3-4 minutes, quarter-turn filets to create diamond marking. Repeat after 3-4 minutes. Turn filets over to other side and repeat.
  • Remove from grill and wrap in aluminum foil for an additional 6-8 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. I enjoy my filets medium rare, 125-135˚.

Arugula Salad

  • Mix desired amount of arugula in bowl with chèvre (fresh goat cheese), blueberries, and olive oil. Drizzle a balsamic glaze over top.
  • Last but not least, pour a delicious glass of 2010 Merryvale Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena.

Illinois Street Food Emporium is offering carryout, delivery and curbside pickup, as well as a grab-and-go section featuring items like quiche, strudel and chicken pot pie.



Photo: loveleon.co

“What’s been interesting about cooking during shelter-in-place is we’ve had to be much more strategic about the food we buy! There’s no margin for error with another trip to the grocery store. We’ve been cooking from a lot of pantry staples, like dried and canned beans, pasta, and even canned tuna! It might feel retro, but this avocado tuna salad is perfect because it’s fresh and healthy, filling, and the perfect way to extend your pantry ingredients (and an avocado, of course!). You can enjoy it with crackers, bread, or even on greens.”

Avocado Tuna Salad
  • 1 can tuna (water packed or oil packed work)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • Celery
  • Red onion
  • Dill pickles are the key to getting that classic tangy flavor!
  • Lemon juice for a little pop
  • Dijon mustard adds just the right savory note 

Click here for the full recipe and directions from Acouplecooks.com.

Stephanie Groves is an Indy-based freelance writer who never knew she should add butter to her fried rice, but she will start doing so immediately.


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