July 04, 2014

As the sun set Tuesday evening on Sunset Bay, New York, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that the sun had also set on Team USA's World Cup. It was a tough pill for me to swallow, so I can't even imagine the heartbreak the team must've been experiencing.

But man, what fight they showed! What grit, what fervorous determination to NEVER give up! The Yanks showed the world what we're all about, and earned respect by the boatload in the process. And how about Secretary of Defense Tim Howard? He wowed the world with a record-setting performance, earning himself a call from the real-deal Secretary to boot. [#ThingsTimHowardCouldSave, in case you haven't checked, is definitely worth a look.]

I could go on and on about Team USA's exit, but the World Cup marches on. As sure as the sun sets in the evening, so too must it rise on a new day. And today the sun rises in Brazil over the first set of quarterfinal matches. Despite the exclusion of Team 'Merica, there is still an abundance of captivating fútbol at our disposal. Two marquee match ups, in fact, that promise more action than an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

Today's first bout features a European superpower tilt, as the Germans lock horns with the French. This one should be especially interesting given the report that seven of Die Mannschafft's squad are fighting flu-like symptoms. If I had to predict a winner, I'll take Germany 2-1 based on pedigre-er, reputation, alone.

The day's second match is a meeting of South American teams and my match to watch, so I'll get to it shortly, but first:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!!! We love you, we need you, we appreciate you. And a special thanks to all those men and women out there who are serving or have served this great nation. You make this day possible.

Now then, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FÚTBOL?!? (Hank Jr. still can't touch me on that.) Let's do this, folks. Happy Quarterfinal day!

Match to Watch: Brazil vs. ColombiaThis one could get rowdy. Brazil will be completely shutdown, its eyes affixed on Fortaleza. The host nation will expect a win, but the way Colombia has been playing, an upset wouldn't really be considered… an upset. Look for Brazil to come out the gate swinging, because failure to do so might find them in a hole they can't climb out of. I've always been a Brazil fan at heart, but I'm picking the underdog here. My Pick: Colombia 2, Brazil 1 

Player to Watch: James RodriguezIt's a soft j, folks. Ha-Mez has been this tournament's best player. For Colombia to win, he'll have to prove that his shoulders can bear more weight than Brazil's champion. Expect Rodriguez to deliver today, shocking the world on the way to ending the host nation's World Cup dream.

Match Day Dish: Colombian Turkey Flatbread Sandwiches (Colombia)DISCLAIMER: No, I don't expect many any of you to make this today, as it's Lady Liberty's birthday and thus a far better day for BBQ, burgers, hot dogs, etc. BUT you can make those tomorrow, or the next day, or the one after that. These arepas are mighty tasty, after all. When you do make this dish, take pictures and send them into our Instagram account with the hashtag #CLKickingDishes for a chance to win prizes (details here). Happy Birthday America, and happy World Cup quarterfinal day! Make it a good 'un. Cheers.

Colombian Turkey Flatbread Sandwiches (Turkey Arepas)Hands-on Time: 32 min. Total Time: 54 min.

  • 7.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) yellow arepa flour (such as P.A.N. or masarepa)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1. Preheat oven to 400°.2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir well. Add 2 cups hot water; stir until well combined and smooth. Let stand 10 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. (Dough should be moist.) Working with 1 portion at a time, roll each portion into a 3-inch circle (about 1/2 inch thick).3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 6 arepas to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat procedure with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining arepas. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until arepas sound hollow when lightly tapped.4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add jalapeño, cumin seeds, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, turkey, cilantro, and black pepper; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cheese.5. Remove arepas from oven; let stand 2 minutes. Cut a 3-inch pocket in the side of each arepa; spoon turkey mixture into arepas. 

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