Here's the thing.
1. A list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. And if you change an ingredient, it's a different list.
2. Directions and methods can only be subject to copyright if they are "substantial literary expression." I tried to find an example of a recipe with substantial literary expression and the closest I came was Anthony Bourdain's Vichyssoise, from his Les Halles Cookbook:
Slowly, and in SMALL batches, puree the soup at a high speed in the blender. Do this bit by bit, never filling the blender too high. Make sure the benders lid is on, and lean on the top when you turn on. If not the burn you will get is awful, and a most frequent accident in even professional kitchens.OK, it's not Tolstoy, but it is more than just a list of generic steps, which is what you find in most Cooks Illustrated recipes.
3. Most food bloggers indicate the source of a recipe, even if they have made some changes to the recipe. It's not entirely necessary, but it's a courtesy.
4. Even though a publishing company would not have a leg to stand on in court, most food bloggers don't have the resources for a legal fight. Which is probably what the folks from Cooks Illustrated are banking on -- that a snippy sounding woman who waved the "copyright" word around would cause bloggers to back down in fear.
I always liked Cooks Illustrated and wrote about them in a positive light. Now my view of them is less rosy. I respect their need to run a profitable business, but going around and berating food bloggers is a foolish practice because they come across like bullies. I'm not sure I have the cojones to take on a company like that, and that's why I give the Melissa (the blogger) a lot of credit for her post (although I don't think it was necessary for commenters to call the snippy PR person nasty names). So I'm going to spend a few days taking a hard look at any recipes of theirs I've posted and decide what to do about them. I'll also think twice about purchasing from them.