Yes, by recover blown highlights, I wasn't really referring to the recovery slider. I generally don't find it helpful. Exposure coupled with Brightness seems to have better results. Better than those is to do two different raw outputs and then blend them with auto align layers and masking techniques. I even like this better than, so called, pseudo HDR using single RAW frames processed with different exposures.
One technique I have been enjoying some success with is to decrease the luminance and increase the saturation of only the blue channel in ACR. Generally for landscape, you don't see this create unpleasant blue casts elsewhere in the image because there aren't many natural things that are made with the color blue, except for perhaps sky, water and ice. In those cases, you probably are okay with tweaking the blue levels. The only possible problem with this, and it is related to the original poster, is when you can create some posterization by pushing the blue channel too far out of synch with the other color channels.