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MasterCook Recipe Formatting 101


Cookbook Recovery

When sharing cookbook files with others it's important to keep some things in mind. I'll provide a checklist of things I try to do before sharing my cookbook files with others.

* Check Titles
* Check Ingredients
* Check Directions
* Check Source
* Spell-check
* Compress Image files

1. Check the recipe titles for consistency. Are some recipe titles in ALL CAPS and others are all lower case or Title Case? I do purposely have some titles in ALL CAPS if it contains text for a non-recipe item (acknowledgement, contents, preface, etc.) though.

2. Check the ingredients. (Look for volume and weights in the preparation column, ranges in the unit field, ingredients split into the preparation field.) I find this easiest to do while viewing the recipes in Recipe Edit view (click on the pencil icon along the right of the screen). I will drag the split bar between the ingredients and directions so that I can see most of the ingredients. Using the Ctrl+arrow keys allows you to browse from recipe to recipe.

Do NOT put ranges within the unit cell. For example:

4 4 to 6-ounce redfish filets

where "4 to 6-ounce" is all within the unit field. When you do this and export and reimport the recipe, the ingredients measurement (ounces) gets left out and lost. It becomes this:

4 redfish filets -- (4 to 6)

Using the above example it implies you need 4 to 6 filets which is not at all what the original recipe calls for. Therefore, it would be better to enter it this way:

4 (4-ounce) redfish filets (4-6 ounces each)

In the above example, "(4-ounce)" is all within the Unit column. The remaining text is within the Ingredient column. Some people would put the "(4-6 ounces each)" within the Preparation column. I don't do this for a couple of reasons. (1) Preparation methods are designed to not transfer to the Shopping List to avoid unnecessary, excess text. If I were to add this recipe to the shopping list it wouldn't transfer the amount I need to purchase. (2) Preparation is where I place text that explains how to use an ingredient. The column is specifically labeled this way, so why would I put stuff that isn't prep. in there? Some would say they do this in order for MasterCook to recognize the ingredients for a nutritional analysis. MasterCook has no clue what "redfish filets" are anyway, so adding additional text to it isn't going to matter. I'll need to link this ingredient row to an item in MasterCook's Ingredient List anyway. Furthermore, I don't typically link every ingredient for every recipe in MasterCook. When I actually make a recipe I will generally link ingredients at that time.

NOTE: It's advised that you use parentheses to enclose the text within the Unit column. This avoids a known bug (

Avoid weights/volumes in the prep. Change this:

2 cans crushed tomatoes -- (28-ounce)

into this:

2 (28-ounce cans) crushed tomatoes

MasterCook's HELP gives us instructions for inputting these types of complex units listed above. In the program's Help Contents review the article titled "Complex Units" for more info. Type that title into the INDEX tab of the Help Contents window. Again, be sure to enclose the Unit text within parentheses.

It also does matter in MC where you place that hyphen. It does need to be between the number and unit. Otherwise, MC won't give you an accurate NA.

Be careful of the unit names you place in the unit column. It doesn't know "inch" for example. The best way to determine what you should put in there is to try typing a word. It is auto-fills from the list, it's good.

If a recipe contains a sub-recipe (e.g. a sauce or frosting accompanying recipe) please make a subheading for the FROSTING recipe and list the ingredients underneath within the main recipe. Make sure the accompanying recipe's directions are within the direction section of the main recipe. See recipe example below. Or, you can create a new, separate recipe for that sauce or frosting, especially if it's likely to be called for in other recipes.

Look for the symbols in the ingredient rows. These are typically introduced when we import amounts into MasterCook where there are numbers consecutively and MasterCook gets confused on which number to put in the unit field (e.g. 1/2 cup 1/4 inch sticks carrots) If you were to import that ingredient row it will produce that funny symbol.

3. Check the directions. Does the text align to the left? Does the text extend across the page and free of word-wrapped lines? If your cookbook places each paragraph into a different direction cell is this consistent behavior for the entire book? I find this easiest to do while viewing the recipes in Recipe Edit view (click on the pencil icon along the right of the screen). I will drag the split bar between the ingredients and directions so that I can see most of the directions. Using the Ctrl+arrow keys allows you to browse from recipe to recipe.

4. Sort recipes by source to check for consistency. I try to make sure I don't have "Sunset 2009 Jan" and "Sunset Jan 2009" for example. I have many magazine issues that I collect within one cookbook, and I like them to sort by month, so I typically label the field this way: Sunset Magazine 2009 01 (Jan). This way all of the January recipes will sort before the August ones. You might want to do the same for the Author and Category headings.

5. Spellcheck. MasterCook's built-in spellchecker will catch a lot of errors for you. However, in order for it to be completely effective you should double check its settings. Open the Check Spelling window by selecting Check Cookbook Spelling from the Tools menu. Press the OPTIONS button. Place a checkmark in all the Recipe Fields that contain text: Title, Description, Ingredients, Directions, Author, Source, Notes, and Serving Ideas. Place a checkmark ONLY in this Rule: Case sensitive.

6. Compress images to reduce the file size of the MCX file. Open your cookbook. Select COMPRESS PICTURES IN THIS COOKBOOK from the Tools menu. At the bottom of the Image Compression window change the QFactor at the bottom to QFactor: 10. Before doing this you may want to create a copy of the original cookbook first. This way if something goes wrong you'll have an original to revert to. Go to the COOKBOOKS screen and select/highlight the cookbook and select SAVE COOKBOOK AS from the File menu. Give it a new name; perhaps put (original) after the existing name.

Many times an example helps. Here's a great one below!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bundt Cake With Orange Glaze

Recipe By :Holly Clegg
Serving Size : 20 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Cakes

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar -- divided
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 (15-ounce can) sweet potatoes (yams) -- drained and mashed
1 cup cooked, mashed, fresh sweet potatoes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon -- divided
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup Citrus Glaze -- see directions
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a nonstick Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, egg, and egg whites until light and fluffy. Add sweet potatoes and mix well.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gradually add flour mixture to mixing bowl alternating with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add vanilla.

In another bowl, combine pecans with remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Spread one-third of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half the pecan topping. Repeat layers ending with final one-third of the batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto serving plate. Make citrus glaze. Drizzle over warm cake.

CITRUS GLAZE: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

Makes 16-20 servings.

Food Facts: Calories 225, Calories from fat 28%, Fat 7 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 23 mg, Sodium 155 mg, Carbohydrate 37 g, Dietary Fiber 2 g, Sugars 20 g, Protein 4 g. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 1/2 carbohydrate, 1 1/2 fat

"Holly Clegg's Trim and Terrific Gulf Coast Favorites, Cookbook Marketplace 2008"
"Holly Clegg Publications, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-9815640-05"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 169 Calories; 7g Fat (37.0% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 23mg Cholesterol; 166mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

NOTES : The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes with a cinnamon streusel and citrus glaze creates one amazing cake. Have fun with different kinds of Bundt pans.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0