Firstly, yes the equipment does get expensive. Secondly, yes FL is perfectly capable of creating consumer grade products.
As for recording; there are so many aspects but I'll run through things that I personally feel are important and happen to spring to mind now.
1) Above all things: Know your microphones. Study the frequency response and consider how you would EQ sounds after tracking, then get the microphone to do the job for you (as far as it can). I've found that I rarely have to do anything other than apply extra HP and LP filters when my microphone choice has been spot on.
Also pay attention to the polar pattern of the microphone. This will heavily impact on the clarity of recording and the amount of bleeding/spill that occurs between sounds when tracking more than one sound source.
2) Room size: Consider that a small room is going to impact more on the amount of natural reverb. So if you're going to be adding extra processing and especially artificial reverb, choosing a medium sized room might be a better decision. You can of course use closer mic techniques but then you might need to consider using compression whilst tracking and a lot of dynamic information will be lost. This might not be a bad thing, depending on the mix.
3) Length of session: If this isn't a factor then you're very lucky. Otherwise, be realistic about what you want to achieve. Make sure you get one thing done well and everything else is a bonus.
4) Planning: With the above in mind, when you know what you're doing, make sure this is obvious to whoever you are recording and keep in mind that you are running the session. Don't allow yourself to be sidetracked by requests that won't ultimately contribute to what you are intending to record. Contemplate the validity of what you are setting out to do, if extra suggestions don't come close, put them aside for later.
5) Don't forget: Just because someone's suggestion didn't seem to fit the recording agenda for the day, it doesn't mean it won't be useful later or worth thinking about. Never drop something just because you're focussing on a goal.
6) Almost paradoxically: Get used to dropping ideas and working methods on the fly. Formulate different ways of achieving the same result so if one doesn't work, you have a fallback plan. If time is an issue, being able to make quick decisions about what to drop and what to run with are studio gold. This will also demonstrate good management and therefore good production techniques.
7) Know your subject: Get to know who or what you are recording as well as possible. Listen to work already recorded if there is any. Search Google to see how other people have approached similar subjects. Talk with the people you will be recorded. Find out what they like and what they are expecting. Work with an understanding of their personalities and form recording sessions around these attributes.
Seriously, even setting mic stands at the correct heights for vocalists *before they have even arrived seems to generate a lot of confidence. It shows that you've been paying attention and demonstrates that the players are the main focus. I like to be as invisible as possible in the studio - by which, I mean that the session runs smoothly around the performers and not around me or the studio equipment.
Communication: It might sound simple but talk with the people you are recording. Let them know when they are doing well to encourage them and tactfully redirect them when the results are not as you desire.
9) Realtime Analysis: Keep in mind what you can achieve through editing and processing. Therefore, don't dwell on things that you know can be fixed later - especially if there is no other way to do something at the time or if the performer turns out to be not quite as skilled as you were expecting.
10) Experimentation and Learning: At first, experimentation is part of the learning process and several mistakes will be made. One thing that I hope all recording engineers can agree on is that the learning process never stops and therefore experimentation should never stop either.
What does change is the level of confidence, knowledge and understanding so that when you are comfortable with what you are doing, your experimentation will start to sound better and reap more usable results. Again, however, don't let experimentation get in the way of a fluid session. It must be equally invisible.
11) Energy and Spirit: Keeping these high as possible without causing fatigue is vital to a good recording. This is where all that confidence and fluidity come into play because as the session rolls you'll find the performers coming out of their shells and getting closer to their potential. If you don't notice this, something is being blocked and it will need addressing - with your self being the first person to quiz.
12) Own the Session: Be responsible for your work. All that you use are simply tools. At the end of the day, it's your mind that will decide how they are used and to what extent. People often feel a lot more comfortable if someone else can take charge.
There's loads more to write but that's it for now.