I can help you. I'm Italian and learned how to cook from my dad who was a wonderful Italian cook. Your neighbor isn't parting with the recipe because most likely there isn't one. A lot of our favorite dishes are like that and just don't have amounts. I'll try to give you amounts here though so you have a starting place. Keep in mind that in our family we like things spicy so if this seems too much just cut back a bit.
1 and 1/2 pounds ground meat (try to get a mix of beef and pork)
3/4 pound pasta (use either elbows, ziti, or a hearty spiral)
4-8 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 slices white bread grated on a cheese grater
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Mix all the above ingredients and saute in 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot until brown.
Add a large can of tomato puree and 2 cans of tomato paste. Rinse the tomato paste cans with fresh water and add the "pasty water" to the pot. Add the water a little at a time. You want a thick sauce so judge by sight. You can always add more. Not as easy to thicken it once you've watered it down.
Add 1 Tablespoon basil and 1 Tablespoon oregano and a bay leaf
Add a can of dark red kidney beans. Do not drain.
Simmer sauce, stirring frequently until cooked through (anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours...the longer it simmers the thicker and more flavorful it gets but this can be a meal in a hurry too so don't sweat it if you don't have a lot of time.)
Meanwhile cook the pasta according to directions.
Stir cooked pasta into the meat sauce.
Remove bay leaf before serving.