Yikes, that's a lot of cayenne!
Sally overdoes the spices, best to start with a little then add more, according to your taste.
Aye yi yi Sally!
That looks more like 1/2 teaspoon than 1/4 teaspoon you thought it was; the recipe called for only 1/8 teaspoon! And with cayenne pepper, a little goes a long way. It's best when trying a new recipe to start with the recommended amount, and then add, little by little to your taste. You can always add more. Im so glad you liked the result, but might be worth tasting it next time with less cayenne, then add the heat as your palate desires.
As for the lid, keep it on, while the onions and carrots are cooking to keep all that moisture trapped. Even still, your whole apartment will fill with that lovely aroma.
You do need to cut the carrots dear, or it will take longer for them to cook. So please keep chopping them, even if you think it would be so much easier to throw them in whole.
Finally, San Marzano tomatoes are the best, just a bit more expensive, but worth it!