This is a multi-part recipe for making these from scratch, so bear with me.
Sauce: Heat olive oil in a large stock pot, add chopped onions and garlic (1-2 onions, 1-4 cloves of garlic depending on taste) Add in some oregano, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, basil - any Italian spices you have on hand - about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon depending on taste (I don't measure, I just cook). Add in tomatoes - if you have fresh then this is a 4 part recipe. Put them into boiling water for about 20 seconds, scoop them up with a strainer and put them into cold water - the skins peel off quickly and easily. Otherwise, open cans of tomato sauce, whole tomatoes (canned or freshly peeled, and mushed, (blender works for this) tomato paste - whatever you have on hand. As for how much - I put in as much as the pot can hold or until I run out of tomatoes. Stir frequently on medium to medium low - you want this to cook for a few hours. The longer it cooks the more mellow the tomato taste is and the more that the herbs mingle with the sauce. (I recommend having plastic storage containers on hand to freeze what you don't use because you won't want to waste any of this!)
Ricotta Cheese Make this while the sauce above is simmering. You need another large stock pot - one that will hold a gallon of whole milk. Slowly and gently bring the milk to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll want to stir frequently to make sure that it doesn't stick / burn on the bottom. This part takes a long time. You can't just crank up the heat, you'll scorch the milk. When it gets to temperature add in 6 Tablespoons of white vinegar and stir. Keep it on the heat until it again reaches 200. It will look kinda gross, so don't freak out. Now take it off the heat and set your timer for 15 minutes. While waiting line a colander with cheesecloth a non-fuzzy tea-towel an old pillow case - you get the idea. You can put it into a clean sink, or over a large bowl. After your 15 minute wait is up pour the milk mixture into the lined colander. Now let it set for 1 hour. (Continue with the Manicotti noodles now - return here when done.) After 1 hour is over lift up the towel and gently squeeze out as much of the remaining whey as you can. This is ricotta cheese.
For this recipe though we are going to add 2 raw eggs, grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, (for the amount 'some' is all I can tell you - maybe 1/4 cup to 1 cup - more is better in my book, but save some for the final step) and fresh basil (and/or any of the Italian spices used in the sauce) - Mix well with your fingers like you are mixing up a hamburger patty. Get it all well incorporated.
Manicotti Noodles 8 eggs 3 cups water 3 cups all purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
To make this easier to mix you can divide the ingredients in half and mix in two batches combining them at the end. I have a Vita-Mix and it easily holds all of the ingredients so I don't divide.
Combine the eggs water flour and salt into a blender and mix until smooth.
Lightly oil a frying pan and heat about a minute over medium high. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the the middle of the pan and quickly, and carefully rotate your pan so that the mixture spreads into a larger, thinner circle... like a crepe or pancake. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes, then flip and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side. Stack between waxed paper (or tinfoil). (These can be frozen for later use too).
Assembly: (Preheat oven to 350 degrees prior to assembly) In a baking dish spoon some of the sauce onto the bottom to coat it. On a plate, lay out a noodle and spoon some of the Ricotta Cheese mixture inside and roll like a taquito. Now place it into the saucy baking dish with the seam side down. Continue rolling the manicotti and laying them side by side until you get a full one layer dish. Now spoon on more of the sauce to cover the bottom layer of noodles and continue making more to fill the top layer. Spoon on more of the sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees until bubbly.