1. If it smells good, it will taste good.
2. If it's bland-looking, it will be bland-tasting. Color is very, very important. The more colorful a dish looks, the more colorful it will taste.
3. You can never over-season chili.
4. Measuring stuff is a waste of time. (UNLESS YOU ARE BAKING).
5. If a recipe includes capers, don't even bother. First of all, capers are way too expensive. Second of all (and mostly), they are horrible.
6. If you are missing one to two ingredients in a recipe, you don't need them. Substitute or omit completely.
7. If you are missing more than two ingredients and they make up a significant portion of the recipe, you have to go shopping--or get a new recipe.
8. Recipes that require you to be running the oven, the stove, and other junk all at the same time are not worth the effort.
9. Hire someone to do the worst cooking things like kneading dough or stirring big bowls of stuff when you put too much stuff in the bowl to adequately stir it. My assistant chef (read: husband) does these things for me.
10. Always sample. How else are you gonna know if you need to add stuff or make something else or give the whole dish to the neighbors?
11. Don't cook if you don't feel like cooking. It takes the fun out of it, and the dishes I make when I don't really feel like making anything...well, nevermind. They're still genius meals. But for you, things probably won't turn out as well.