There are those images that I suspect have good potential, but require just a bit of work. My rescue tool of choice is Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 and Photoshop CS6. Typically, I can salvage a picture in just a few minutes. Here's a recent example of a 3-step photo rescue.
Step 1 - Open in ACR 7.1 and Apply the Graduated Filter
The big problem with this shot was that the top of the image was blown out from the setting sun. Since I shot RAW, I figured there was enough image information there, and the graduated filter seemed like the right tool to see what I have.
Step 2 - Open in Photoshop CS6 and Apply HDR Toning
After using the Graduated Filter in ACR, I thought I could balance the overall tonality a bit more. I used the HDR Toning tool in Photoshop CS6 (Image > Adjustments > HDR Toning).
Step 3 - Smart Sharpening and Save
Now all I had to do was apply a Smart Sharpening and save the photograph. By this point you're probably wondering what the original looked like. Here ya go.
And here's the final image.
The entire process took about 5 minutes.
You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.