Local dad Ryan Lombardi shares a favorite recipe that’s become a staple in his home. If you’re looking for a delicious, healthy meal that your kids will enjoy, this might be a winner in your household.
Ryan is a PTA with Central Home Health. He’s been married to Hanna Lombardi for 17 years and they have two children: Miller (15) and Wren (10). Their niece, Hailee (11), also lives with them.
Ryan recalls cooking at the early age of eight or nine. He started with simple meals, such as mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast, and pancakes. His mother did most of the teaching, and their kitchen was open to prying eyes and inquiring minds.
He recalls, “I remember my grandfather teaching me how to carve a turkey at age ten and my grandmother teaching me the basics of homemade whipped cream for pies or how to use yeast to make bread.
Ryan mentions that enjoying various foods all began with his grandfather, who enjoyed dishes from around the world.
“We were the family that planned vacations and would schedule our activities around where we were having our next meal.”
Ryan’s mom was a single parent and wanted to teach him basic cooking concepts at an early age. She also taught him that a sandwich wasn’t a dish and that if he wanted to feed his family when he got older, he needed to learn how to prepare meals.
Ryan’s family has a cherished tradition known as a “mystery meal”. The rules are simple. Everyone prepares something (regardless of age, and the young kids get to assist). It has to be something you’ve never prepared before, and it has to be homemade. Once revealed, it’s put to the ultimate taste test. The meal typically has a theme; for example, it begins with a certain letter or drawing a country out of a hat and preparing a dish from that country. The family gets together, and everyone presents their dish and explains the preparation. When it’s time to eat, each person samples every dish. Ryan says, “It’s always fun unless my grandfather was involved, in which case he would prepare something full of weird meat or vegetables just to see our reactions when we tried it.”
Cajun Shrimp with Conecuh
1 lb peeled shrimp
2 links Conecuh sausage, sliced
1 chicken breast (boiled and shredded) or sliced ham (optional)
5 slices of bacon
1 can Organic diced tomatoes
2 carrots, diced, or 1 bag of baby carrots, diced
Half an onion, diced
Red bell pepper, diced (optional)
1/4 tsp parsley
Pinch of oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (Tony’s)
Brown bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon and drain off half of the grease. Add onion, carrot, and red pepper (if using). Cook until soft. Add in Conecuh and cook through, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes. Add a can of diced tomatoes, pepper, and garlic powder and stir all ingredients together. Add shrimp on top and season with cajun seasoning. Cover with a lid until shrimp are pink. Remove lid and stir together, and then let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Crumble and add bacon on top.