I'm sure you've heard it before, but reading a recipe through multiple times before ever starting it is extremely important. Reading through a recipe before starting it will also give you the time to look up different techniques or instructions that you may not understand. "One cup pecans, chopped" is different from "one cup chopped pecans." ...You're allowed to be upset, of course, but if you substitute more than three items in a recipe, then you have officially changed the recipe. This brings us back to our #1 tip of reading the recipe before you start: The recipe will indicate how you need to divide the ingredient and, of course, when you’ll be using it.