If you're reading this, I've been awake for 24 hours, pining for Thursday, 3:oo PM CST. Much like a small child on Christmas, I knew if I just closed my eyes and went to sleep I'd get what I wanted much sooner. But alas, anticipation is clearly sleep deprivation's bestie. And it was sooo worth it, because today is...THE FIRST DAY OF THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP!

Okay, I'm calm. I'm collected. I'm ready. Are you? Without further ado, I give you the first post of Cooking Light's World Cup Blogstravaganza!

Match to Watch: Brazil vs. Croatia 

The Canarinhos (Brazil's nickname) are a heavy favorite to win their unprecedented sixth World Cup trophy, and not just because they'll enjoy the luxury of playing in front of the home crowd. They are loaded with talent top-to-bottom, and should easily make it to the tournament's knockout round. Make no mistake, though—Croatia is considered by many to be a dark horse, led by phenomenal midfielder Luka Modrić and forward Mario Mandžukić. This will be an incredible opening match, but there's no way Brazil loses. My Pick: Brazil 3, Croatia 1

Player to Watch: Neymar

The host country's talisman, Neymar (Brazilians have always been big fans of the one name thing) is looking to carry the weight of Brazil's title hopes on his diminutive 22 year-old shoulders. Even though he's still young, he's really, really good. Look for him to have a hand in the scoring today and lead Brazil to its first victory.

Match Day Dish: Shrimp in Bahia Sauce (Brazil)

A Brazilian recipe in homage to the tournament and host team's first game. Although Feijoada is probably more popular throughout Brazil, I opted for a dish that takes far less time. Make this recipe for dinner to celebrate the end of match day one, and don't forget to take pictures for our Instagram contest. Happy World Cup! Cheers.

Hands-on Time: 56 min. Total Time: 1 hr. 21 min.

  • 8 ounces fresh or frozen yuca (cassava), thawed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons annatto (achiote) seeds
  • 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise (1 cup)
  • 3 cups diced seeded peeled tomato
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped seeded Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
  1. Peel yuca, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes to measure 1 1/4 cups. Place yuca in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes or until tender. Drain yuca in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Return yuca and reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid to pan; mash with a potato masher until smooth. Discard any tough fibers.
  2. Place garlic on a cutting board; mash to a paste by dragging and pressing broad side of knife over garlic several times. Combine garlic, shrimp, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Stir in annatto seeds, and cook 5 minutes or until oil turns deep orange in color, shaking pan frequently. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Discard annatto seeds, reserving oil in pan.
  4. Heat pan over medium heat until annatto oil is hot. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 6 minutes or until tender. Add tomato; cook 10 minutes or until tomato breaks down, stirring occasionally. Mash mixture with a wooden spoon. Add shrimp with marinade, coconut milk, and Scotch bonnet. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in reserved mashed yuca, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon cilantro; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Spoon shrimp mixture into shallow bowls; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.