150 Miles…then Macaroni

Steve, Dave, Mike, Mike and Lou sporting our PwC Jerseys on the MS 150 Ride to Lake Erie

I’m an avid cyclist which means I ride a lot.  I love to ride my bikes because I know that Finding ways to stay in shape matters to enjoying a long and healthy life, and to be totally honest it doesn’t feel like I’m staying healthy because I love, love, love riding my stable of four bikes. 

A Real Heartbreaker–Sold to a Good Home

After many hours of negotiation, Kathy has agreed to no more than 4 ‘girlfriends’ at a time, referring unaffectionately to the number of bikes living in our basement.  She recently ‘encouraged’ me to sell my 1985 Bianchi Columbia Racer, in original pristine condition, because I had recently acquired a 5th bike.  I reluctantly sold her to a good home with an experienced rider who already loves and appreciates her natural beauty.  I’ll miss her, but I love my new full carbon Giant mountain bike–she’s a gorgeous speciman.  Kathy already claims I spend more time with my bikes than I do with her.  That is absolutely not true!  It would only be true if she let me bring my bikes into our sleeping quarters, which she refuses to allow.

This past weekend, me and several of my friends cycled 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie to help raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.  The core of my riding group is comprised of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partners and staff members, and the firm I spent 36 years with before retiring a couple years ago.  As you can see from the photo, the ‘team’ is a great group of people from a wide range of age groups.  I’m currently the elder of the group, and I appreciate the small amount of deference the team affords me when the hills get steep–they drag me up the hills.  Thanks Guys!

Along with 1200 other riders, we navigated the hilly, country backroads of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, traveling through some beautiful small towns and bountiful farmland.  We covered 75 miles on Saturday, spending the night on the grounds of gorgeous Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and then finished the ride on Sunday when we got to Lake Erie in the town of Coneaut, Ohio.  The weather was perfect, the rest stops timely and the camaraderie was special among all the riders.

Remember Seth and Tim from one of my earlier blog posts (“My Vegan Freind, Beer Buddy…”)?  They pulled a beer keg on a trailer attached to a tandem 75 miles on day one.  Don’t worry, the keg was empty so the hot sun and the josling around did not ruin good beer.  We knew we would have an ice cold keg waiting for us when we got to the College–a significant motivator to finish the day.  And for the non-alcoholic drinkers among us, we had all kinds of recovery drinks like chocolate milk, Coke and Gatorade.  At my age, I took Gatorade, then chocolate milk, a cool shower, a change of clothes, a nap, and THEN the beer.  You  learn and respect the proper order of things as you get older.  Besides, the beer hadn’t been tapped yet.

Sunday’s Finish Line–Lake Erie

I have a really cool computer on my bike.  It tells me all kinds of things before, after and during my rides.  In case you are wondering (which you probably aren’t), the ‘team’ averaged about 16 MPH over the 2 days of riding, including nearly 5000 feet of cumulative hill climbs.  It was in the high 80’s and the wind was in our face for most of the ride.  By the end of 150 miles, my computer reported I had burned 9,513 calories.  While I drank gallons of Gatorade and ate PB&J sandwiches until I couldn’t any more, my body was screaming for carbohydrates and calories on Sunday afternoon.  And while the beer helped to put a small dent in that demand, the kind of craving  I had called for a fast and furious response–my quick and easy Fresh Homemade Marinara Sauce over Macaroni. I thought about it all the way home from the ride, and planned the attack.  I rushed through a shower and change of clothes, drew a glass of red wine,  got the sauce cooking and the macroni water boiling, all in about 20 minutes.  While that was going on, I went to my ‘driveway garden’ to cut some fresh basil and parsley to add at the last minute, like the recipe calls for.  Then I went to the pantry to choose the macaroni for today.

Macaroni.  I’ll bet that’s a word you haven’t heard in awhile.   In my childhood home, if it wasn’t ‘spaghetti’, it was ‘macaroni’.   And each shape had its own name.  Ziti was ‘ziti’.  Penne was ‘penne’ and rigatoni was called ‘rigatoni’.  All of us had our favorite macaroni, and we got to choose whenever we were ‘good’.  I had a cousin who loved ‘shells’, but he was never ‘good’.  He was great at being ‘bad’, and we loved him for that because we had fun watching him do the bad stuff.  We also loved him because he never got to choose.  We did.

Nowadays, everyone calls it ‘pasta’.  I ask you:  if every length and shape of dried dough is called pasta, how can you have a favorite?  How do you know what you are getting when you see it on a restaurant menu?  Do you guess?  Is it supposed to be a surprise?   Is it like a lottery–you agree to pay for the sauce and hope to get lucky and ‘win’ your favorite?  I think they should look at the box it came in and call it by the name some italian mother gave it back in the old days.  Makes life more fun and you get to know your macaroni by first name.

So here’s the recipe.  It is simple and will come out great every time.  The beauty is it will always be a little different each time because the fresh ingredients you use are never exactly the same texture, taste and quality.  Don’t worry I know the directions are long, but that’s because I’m giving explicit instructions so you get it right the first time, every time.  Don’t forget to taste, taste, taste as you go along and before you add any ingredients beyond what the recipe calls for.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m giving you recipes that will help you build a repetoir of basics that you can augment in many ways to  create totally different tastes. flavors and combinations from the same basic recipe.  See the Notes in the recipe for hints.  Almost all of My Collection Recipes have Notes for the purpose of giving you good ideas.  But more importantly, use your own imagination to create your own meal specialties using these basic recipes.

Fresh Homemade Marinara Sauce

 Prep Time: 45 min | Cook Time: 45 mins | Servings: 6 to 8 dinner servings | Difficulty: Easy


Homemade Shrimp in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce–Oh! Baby!

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar OR 1/2 cup red table wine, not both
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, fresh, chopped (or 2 tbsps of dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn (or 3 to 4 tbsps of dried)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tsp Sea or kosher salt, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 lb DeCecco spaghetti or ridged cut penne pasta
  • Grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese


1. Heat large sauce pan over medium heat, and add olive oil.

2. Add garlic and sauté briefly-1 minute-do not let it brown.

3. Add onion and sauté until translucent and soft-about four or five minutes.

4. Place tomatoes and can juices in a large bowl and use your hands to crush the tomatoes into quarter size pieces.

5. Add the tomatoes to the pan.

6. Add the balsamic vinegar OR red wine.

7. Add salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, if using.  If using dried parsley and basil instead of fresh, add it now.

8. Simmer sauce over low to medium heat for about 25 to 30 minutes unitl some of the juices have reduced and the sauce is slightly concentrated.

9. Meanwhile, heat 8 quarts of cold water to a boil.

10. Add 2 tbsp of salt to the boiling water.

11. Add your favorite macaroni or spaghetti and follow the directions for cooking. Do not overcook–there is nothing worse than soft, mushy pasta. It should be firm to tooth  but not hard in the middle (‘al dente’). Towards the end of the suggested cooking time, begin testing for doneness and drain in a colander when it’s done. I don’t rinse my macaroni because it removes the starch that helps the sauce stick to it.

12. When you put the macaroni or spaghetti in the boiling water, add the fresh parsley and basil to the sauce.   These fresh herbs are very delicate and you do not want to ‘cook out’ the flavors for too long. Simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes and turn off the sauce. It’s ready!!

13. When the pasta has been drained, return it to the cooking pan and add about 1 cup of the sauce to lightly coat the pasta.

14. Dish out the coated pasta into bowls or onto plates, and top the pasta with a nice ladle of sauce.

15. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs or rough chopped parsley, if you have them–if not serve the plate as is.

16. Serve with a generous spoon of the grated cheese on top.

17. See the many variations for this recipe in the Notes.


This is a basic marinara sauce that can be the base for all kinds of interesting and delicious variations:

A. Try adding peeled shrimp for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

B. Cook, drain on paper towels, and slice Italian sausage.  Add it to the sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

C. Add sliced zucchini when you add the onions.

D. Add sliced green or red peppers when you add the onions to any of the above additions for color, texture and taste.

E. For a great ‘company’ style dinner, add peeled shrimp, 1/8 to 1/4 cup of heavy cream and another handful of chopped fresh basil to the cooked sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking, and you now have created Shrimp in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce. That’s what is shown in the picture accompanying this recipe. It’s amazing.

E. Try anything you think will be fun and you might like.

Source: Lou’s Recipe Collection

Sent from Paprika Recipe Manager

Categories: Great Recipes, Loving Life!

Tags: , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. I have to try the recipe like the ingredients. I do add a little balsamic vinegar at the end of the cooking process for sweetness.
    Am I correct that maccheroni is a type of pasta?
    Sounds like a great ride.

    • The balsamic is great for that sweetness but it also adds a great layer of complexity to give the quick cooking sauce some depth in flavor. And yes, ‘maccheroni’ is the old timers way of spelling macaroni. R u an ‘old timer’?

  2. Could not see pictures, no link association.

    • R u ‘following’ me by hitting the button in the top left hand corner of the blog? If so, you get an email with the words, but not the pics. You need to go to the actual blog page to see the pics and links. Try it and let me know how it works for you.

  3. Hay Hot Cookin Guyhow do you test your pasta in the last part of cooking? Do you through it on the wall or on your special lady to see if it sticks? Is it the same ammount of shrimp with the cream as without? I guess if you dirink the wine and use the vinigar, it doesn’t matter.

    • ACtually throwing pasta against a wall doesn’t work. I’ve seen you do it and your poor kitchen looks like a spider web. Best thing is to take piece out of the water and taste it. Firm to the tooth but not raw in the middle. For the amount of sauce in this recipe, a pound of shrimp is good and you add cream until it is a little lighter than red, not creamy. And drinking the wine in your case only makes you ‘in the sauce’ not cooking the sauce. Ha Ha

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