Florida

Stone Crab Season Has Finally Arrived

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As we ease into the coming fall and winter seasons here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, one of the many bright spots on the horizon is the return of Stone Crab season in Florida.

Whether you prefer to get out on the water and catch your own or simply buy them from one of our local fresh seafood markets, those delicious stone crab claws are going to be plentiful throughout the rest of this year and the first part of 2020.




About Stone Crab Claws

Unlike so much of the seafood that comes out of the Gulf of Mexico, stone crab claws are actually a renewable resource since they are able to regrow their claws after those claws are harvested by local fishermen.

Stone crabs are able to regenerate their claws over the course of about a year, and with a life expectancy of about 8-9 years, they can produce that delicious claw meat quite a few times in their lives.

Catching Stone Crab Claws

Like any seafood that you might be looking for here in Florida, there are plenty of rules and regulations to be aware of when it comes to stone crab claws. The most important of those is the fact that you can only catch stone crabs when they are in season from October 15 through May 15.

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Any amateurs fishing for stone crab need to obtain a saltwater fishing license and respect limits of just five traps, only collecting one gallon of claws per day, and making sure that all of those claws are at least 2 ¾ inches long.

Of course, if you don’t feel like remembering all of the details, you can always go the charter route and let the captain take care of worrying about the rules, or you can just purchase claws that someone else harvested at one of our many local seafood markets.

Cooking Stone Crab Claws

There are four ways to cook your freshly harvested stone crab claws, and the easiest one is to throw them right into a pot of boiling water. The only tips you need to worry about here are to make sure that you season the water with plenty of salt and be careful not to overcook the claws.

Another simple way to cook your fresh stone crab claws is to put them in a casserole dish with a little bit of water at the bottom and bake them covered in the oven at 350 degrees.

The slightly more complicated way to cook stone crab claws that often produces a better quality meal is to steam them in a basket over a pot of boiling water. It’s really only complicated in that you have to have the right equipment. Once again, you want to be careful not to overcook the claws.

Boiling your stone crab claws should take about 5-10 minutes. For steaming and baking allow 8-10 minutes. You know they’re done when they smell like delicious crab meat. You will also see the color change and brighten.

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In Florida we love to grill all year round, so why not grill our claws. Simply put the claws on a medium heat grill for about 5 minutes for each side. The temperature for grilling should be between 300 and 325 Fahrenheit. When you are grilling, it's advisable to spread olive oil or butter on the claws.

Again, it is crucial to check the crab claws when heating them. Baking and grilling can give out sweet meat, but overheating them will make the meat tough and lose the flavor.

Stone Crab Claw Dippage

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One of the things that make stone crab claws so popular is that there is a wide variety of things you can dip them in. For many home cooks, the best place to start is with drawn butter or cocktail sauce.

Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami is probably the most popular stone crab restaurant in the world, and they are known for serving stone crab claws with a unique mustard dipping sauce. Thanks to websites like Epicurious, you can make a great mustard sauce for your home-cooked stone crab claws using their version of that recipe.

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If you are a stone crab expert looking for some new flavors, this article from News-Press offers some unique twists on dipping sauces like Brandy Mustard Sauce, Jalapeno Honey Sauce, Ginger Scallion Sauce, and Spicy Marinara Sauce.

However you prefer to cook and dip your stone crab claws, there is no denying that they are one of the best treats available throughout the winter here in Florida. Make sure you take the time to enjoy plenty of these local delicacies this year!

Choosing Your Home: How Much Square Footage Do You Really Need?

The Westchester Floor Plan

The Westchester Floor Plan

Deciding exactly how big you want your new home to be here at the Villages of Citrus Hills is one of the first steps that every new home buyer struggles with. And while it can often be hard to imagine the difference between 2,200 square feet and 2,800 square feet, the difference in size is a very real factor that must be given a serious amount of attention.

Whether you are planning to downsize from a larger home, upgrading from a smaller condo, or looking for something right in the sweet spot for a perfect retirement lifestyle, there are more than a few options to be had here in our community. In order to get to the heart of your needs, all you have to do is ask yourself the right questions.

How Much Home Can You Afford?

The first factor that comes into play when deciding how much square footage someone needs in their new home is how much they can actually afford. Understanding what your new home is going to cost is a great way to come around to a starting point on how much space you can actually afford.

Once you have a rough estimate of what your new home is going to cost, you can quickly figure out a reasonable range of home sizes you have to choose from.

Do You Plan on Staying Here Forever?

How long you plan to call this new house your home is another critical factor that you are going to want to spend some time thinking about. If you are only planning to spend a few years in this house, you have less to worry about.

However, if the goal is for this new house to be your “forever home,” then you are going to want to nail down each and every detail to make sure that you enjoy your lifestyle here for years to come.

What Does Your In-Home Lifestyle Look Like?

Another way to look at the same question is to examine what your lifestyle will look like once you are moved into your new home. Are you the type of family where everyone needs their own separate space? Or are you comfortable with everyone sharing the same open living spaces?

There are no right or wrong answers here, so the trick is to be completely honest with yourself on how you and your family will ultimately occupy the space you are building.

Do You Need Your Own Personal Space?

With so many of our floor plans offering extra bedrooms and flex rooms that can be converted into different kinds of spaces, this is also a time to be honest with yourself about how much personal space you are going to want to have in your new home.

If there is any chance that you are going to be taking up a hobby like scrapbooking or crafting that will need a dedicated space, this is the time to make sure that you are going to have the square footage to accommodate those activities.

How Often Do You Expect Visitors?

How often you plan on hosting visiting friends and family is another factor that can increase the amount of square footage you will need in your new home. Just as you are going to want to know whether you need dedicated personal space, having a spare room ready for visitors will require extra square footage that you need to account for.

Once again, there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. It is also important to remember that today’s open floorplan designs maximize square footage in a way that older homes simply can’t compete with, so the same amount of square footage is going to feel much bigger in a modern home.

Regardless of how much square footage you ultimately decide on, you are going to love everything about your new lifestyle here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.

Let’s get started talking about your new home in our community!

7 Benefits of Building a New Home

The Westchester

The Westchester

One of the biggest questions faced by many people who are relocating to Florida is whether they are better off to build a new home or buy an existing one.  

While there are advantages to both options, building a new home has certain key benefits that just can’t be matched when buying an existing one.  

Here are the seven top benefits of building a new home instead of buying a resale: 

Choose the Exact Look and Floor Plan 

When you choose to build your new home from scratch, you get to build it the way you want it. You will have the option to choose the ideal floor plan you want and you will also be able to choose the materials and color schemes that fit your personality.  

Personalize Each and Every Detail 

Another big selling point for new home construction is that you will have the ability to personalize many aspects of your home. Adding features like a pot filler above the stove or a particular type of recessed lighting in a certain spot are easy to integrate when they are added before the walls go up.  

New Homes Have Warranties 

Should anything go wrong with your new construction home in the first few years, it will almost certainly be covered under your warranty. The same cannot be said with a resale home, where what you see is often what you get and you could be opening yourself up to tremendous risk if something goes wrong down the road.  

Save Energy With New Technologies 

Whether you are selflessly concerned about protecting the environment or more interested in protecting your bank account from high energy costs, the modern green technologies that will be included in your new home will actually be able to do both!  

Your new home is sure to have energy efficient appliances, and it may also feature energy saving technologies in its roofing materials, windows, and ventilation system.  

Modern Style and Design 

Building a new home instead of buying a resale also guarantees that you are on the cutting edge of the most modern style and design in the industry. At Citrus Hills you will have all of the design features that are popular today like granite countertops, open concept kitchens, elegant master suites, and covered lanais. 

Lower Maintenance Costs 

Simply put, new homes will require less maintenance. Your home will already have a fresh coat of paint and a brand new roof, air-conditioner and appliances, so those types of maintenance projects and replacements will not be necessary until years down the road. You will also be able to design your landscaping in a way that can help you save on maintenance there as well.  

You’re the Only One 

The Westchester

The Westchester

Another advantage of purchasing a new home is the feeling of knowing that you are the only person who has ever lived there. You won’t have to ever consider what might have happened in the home before you lived there. Everything will be brand new and built just for you.  

Building a new home from the ground up gives you the ability to create the home of your dreams where every detail matches your expectations.  

While there are pros and cons to both building a new home and buying a resale, for most people the benefits of building a new home far outweigh any potential drawbacks.

5 Fun Things to Do in Dunnellon

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Known for its prime location along the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers, as well as its historic downtown district, Dunnellon is one of the many hidden gems residents will find located all around the Villages of Citrus Hills.

Because of its location just over 20 minutes north of our community, Dunnellon is one of the popular day trip destinations for our residents. And with everything from river tubing and horseback riding to airboat tours and shopping, there is never a dull moment in this nearby town.

Let’s take a closer look at five of the most fun things you can do while spending a day up in Dunnellon.

Tubing Down the Rainbow River

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One of the most popular things to do in Dunnellon is break out a tube or kayak and spend the day floating down the Rainbow River. This is a great way to take in the beauty of the area without having to do a whole lot of work.

The best places to start any tubing or kayaking adventure here are Rainbow River State Park and the KP Hole County Park. There are companies available to rent tubes or kayaks near both locations, so the only thing you have to bring is a swimsuit.

Rainbow Springs State Park

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While Rainbow Springs State Park is best known for being a perfect launch point for a day out on the Rainbow River, the park offers so many additional amenities that it actually deserves a place of its own on this list.

In addition to river access, Rainbow Springs State Park offers some of the best hiking and camping areas you will find this close to the Villages of Citrus Hills. So whether you are looking for a wilderness weekend or just a picnic outside, this is the type of location you definitely want to experience.

Happy Acres Ranch

If horses are your passion, then Happy Acres Ranch is going to be the type of place you want to visit over and over again.

This working ranch specializes in trail rides, lessons, and boarding. They have over 50 miles of trails to explore on horseback, so there is always a new path to explore while you are out riding.

In addition to being a great place for horseback riding, Happy Acres Ranch also offers campers and cottages for rent if you want to turn Dunnellon into your home for the weekend.

Airboat Tours

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While exploring the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers by kayak can be quite relaxing, airboat tours offer visitors a much more exciting version of that same experience. These flat-bottom boats are powered by massive fans attached to the back of them.

Local companies like Captain Bob’s Airboat Tours offer regularly scheduled tours that will get you up close and personal with all kinds of local plants and native wildlife. Plus there is the fun of actually getting to experience riding on an airboat.

Historic Shopping District

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Most of the small towns throughout the state have some interesting boutique stores for shoppers to explore, but Dunnellon has the Historic Village Shops of Dunnellon, which is a collection of those types of stores that work together to create an amazing shopping experience.

The Historic Village Shops of Dunnellon also hosts a market of local crafters and artists on the first Saturday of each month. So if you are planning on shopping in town, that is the best time to visit.

With everything from tubing down the Rainbow River to exploring the Historic Villages Shops of Dunnellon, this quaint little town is packed with fun and adventure for anyone who wants to visit. And since it is located just a short drive from the Villages of Citrus Hills, there is no reason you can’t plan to head up to Dunnellon on a regular basis.