A Taste of Home

Our friends and neighbors share their favorite
recipes for casual entertaining.

As a big seafood fan, Andrew Hinkle, the director of sales and account management for FMT Solutions, calls this one of his all-time favorite recipes.


1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tomato, cored and diced
1 jalapeno, cored and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper as needed

Cut shrimp into small pieces and combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. > Refrigerate for 2-6 hours. Marinating in fresh lime juice essentially cooks the shrimp due to the high acidity of the juice. If you prefer not to use raw shrimp, using cooked shrimp  will cut marinating time down to 15-minutes. > Serve with tortilla chips or over your favorite greens.

spiked lemonade

Our own Jill Paglia loves to serve a signature drink at parties and says this citrus chiller is always a hit.

2 cups lemon-flavored sparkling water or club soda
1/2 cup citrus-flavored vodka, chilled
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, chilled
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur  

Combine ingredients in a large pitcher or beverage dispenser. > Pour individual servings over crushed ice. > Garnish glasses with a lemon slice, if desired. 

Left On Broadway vocalist and Shoogie Natural beauty brand founder Olivia Ortiz serves up her Shoogie Shack Attack Sangria at gatherings. Check out more of her cocktails, including a white sangria, on the Couch Sessions Ocala website.


6 bottles of a light red wine (Dry Farms Regenerative Love Light Red)
64 ounces honeycrisp apple cider
64 ounces cranberry juice
32 ounces cinnamon whiskey (Fireball)
6 ounces dried cranberries
5 sliced apples
4 sliced oranges, halved

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine fruit and dried fruit into a container and top with cinnamon whiskey, wine, and juice. > Close the lid tightly and let it sit in the fridge for at least 48 hours before drinking (this allows the fruit to macerate, and the drink soaks up all the flavors without adding any more sugar). > Serve over ice and garnish with a slice of the drunk fruit from the container.

7-layer dip

Professional actor and director Terry LeCompte serves her version of 7-layer dip in small individual bowls so her guests can “enjoy the fun of a dip without the ick-share-factor.”

Sour cream
Mango salsa
Finely shredded lettuce
Finely diced tomato or onions
Shredded cheese (Mexican blend)
Diced avocado
Tortilla chips

Fill each bowl or 9-inch clear tumbler with your ingredients in preferred order and place chips around the edge, reserving extra chips in a second bowl.

Artist Tyrus Clutter ‘s gourmet pizzas are the talk of his parties. He explains that he makes several batches of pizza dough in the bread machine and his own homemade sauce, but says store bought fresh pizza dough and sauce are a great substitution. 

“I’ve made anywhere from four to eight different pizzas during a party. I have everything prepped beforehand and then pop back into the kitchen every now and then to put a couple new pizzas into the oven, while my guests enjoy chatting with each other. These are two recipes that I often throw into the mix.”


Smoked Salmon and Dill Pizza
Spread the dough into a 10-12 inch round base. > Lightly cover with pizza sauce. > Tear strips of smoked salmon, about a total of 4-6 ounces. > Scatter over pizza. > Spoon dollops of ricotta cheese on the pizza along with some rinsed capers. > Place on a pizza pan or pizza stone in an oven preheated to 450 and bake for about 12 minutes. > Sprinkle with fresh dill and serve.

Grilled Sirloin and Gorgonzola Pizza
Pre-grill a 6-ounce sirloin steak, keeping it fairly rare since it will continue to cook on the pizza. > Spread the dough into a 10-12 inch round base. > Lightly cover with pizza sauce. > Place slices of the steak, 3/4 cup of gorgonzola, and some sliced red onion on the pizza. > Place on a pizza pan or pizza stone in an oven preheated to 450 and bake for about 12 minutes. > Sprinkle with fresh arugula and serve.

mac ‘n cheese

Barbara J. Brooks, the president of R.A.M.A.L. Educational and Social Services, says she has tried a lot of so-called “Southern style” mac ‘n cheese, but this recipe is by far her favorite. And she’d like to invite you to share your versions through our Ocala Cooks group on Facebook.

8 to 10 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Velveeta, cut into small chunks
8 ounces shredded Colby-Jack (or 4 ounces colby and 4 ounces Monterey Jack)
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded mild cheddar

Preheat oven to 350. > Bring large pot of water to boil and salt generously. > Cook macaroni just shy of package directions, al dente. > Drain well and place macaroni in a 9 x13 baking dish or pan. > In the same pot, whisk together whole milk, eggs, and salt until combined. > Pour mixture over cooked macaroni in pan. > Add butter, Velveeta, Colby-Jack and sharp cheddar. > Stir to combine and top evenly with shredded mild cheddar. > Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned on top.

Sonda Eunus is a business consultant, content creator and the founder of Leading Marketing Solutions. She first tried a slice of this pie 10 years ago in a little restaurant in Brooklyn and says, “life has never been the same.” This version from famed pastry chef David Lebovitz (originally published in Food & Wine) is a close match to the one she first fell in love with.

chocolate pecan pie with bourbon


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup ice water


2 cups pecans (about 7 ounces)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. > Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. > Transfer to a bowl and stir in the ice water. > Knead the dough two or three times on a lightly floured surface and pat into a disk. > Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. > On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round. > Fit the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch, fold the edge under itself, and crimp decoratively. > Refrigerate until firm.

Preheat the oven to 375. > On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the pecans for about 8 minutes or until fragrant; coarsely chop. > In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter, bourbon, and salt until blended. > Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pour the filling into the pie shell. > Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 55 minutes, or until the center of the pie is set. If the edge is browning too quickly, tent the crust with foil halfway through the baking time. > Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

lemon squares

Melissa J. Townsend of It’s All About You…Real Estate calls these refreshing gluten-free lemon squares, with a buttery, crumbly shortbread base, the perfect treat.

1 cup Bisquick Gluten Free mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350. > In medium bowl, mix Bisquick mix, 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup powdered sugar until blended. (Mixture will be crumbly.) > Press in bottom of ungreased 8-inch square pan. > Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

In medium bowl, mix granulated sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice, baking powder, salt and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. > Beat in melted butter. > Pour over hot crust.

Bake 25 to 26 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched lightly in center. > Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour. > Refrigerate 2 hours or until well chilled. > Sprinkle with powdered sugar. > Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. > Store covered in refrigerator.

Posted in Ocala Style Features, TableTagged

Share this post


What's New at Ocala Style

Remembering Ross Allen

The Ross Allen Reptile Institute was long a major attraction...

Learning to Love Slowcala

My wife, Amy, and I love to walk Rigby Floyd,...

Count Your Bugs

UF/IFAS Extension Marion County is encouraging area residents to take...

4WD Adventure

Twenty two-person teams will tackle off-road park trails in this...

Driveable Destinations: Dunedin

With two state parks, links to Scottish history and a...

A Mix of Cultures in Clay

Stone tools can tell us a lot about our ancestors...