The Surznick Common Room

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Buffalo Tempeh Chili

Finally, we're back at it in the kitchen, working on some delicious recipes! Moving into our new home has of course been busy, but to be honest, we've been settled for a little while and there is only so much take out one can eat (as in I can eat SO much take-out.) But seriously, it feels good to work a bit in the kitchen on some delicious and hearty recipes. This one was a bit of a cheat though. The very first recipe we ever shared back in 2013 was Buffalo Turkey Chili. A lot has changed since then (like we don't eat meat anymore, and we don't use my iPhone 4 to photograph food for the blog, thank goodness) so it was high time to give it another go.

This recipe is pretty straight forward, but it is oh so delicious! I'm a huge fan of anything buffalo flavored, and the tempeh really steps up as a fantastic meat sub for this dish.

Here's what you need:
- 1 pack original flavor tempeh (1/2 lb. total)
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 cup diced baby carrots
- 1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups buffalo sauce 
- 1 15 oz. can red kidney beans
- Olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp. paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
(Feel free to adjust the spicier ingredients to your liking)

Here's what you do:
- Cut your tempeh into small cubes (about 1/2-1 inch)
- In a medium skillet, heat a few tablespoons olive oil and add the tempeh. Fry until golden brown on all sides, adding salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- In a large pot, heat olive oil and add your peppers, onions, and carrots. Saute until the onions are translucent and the veggies begin to soften.
- Add the tempeh and kidney beans (drained.) Saute together for 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain), buffalo sauce, and seasonings.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve this with some corn tortilla chips for a perfectly crunchy spoonful, or top it with some delicious blue or cheddar cheese!

I love this chili. There is just something about the buffalo flavors and eating a bowl of something warm that make me long for fall weather. It's soon, and I cannot wait!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, August 19, 2016

Our Favorite Podcasts (Vol. 2)

Since posting our first podcast round up almost a year and half ago, our love for the medium has not faded. We still keep up with our old standards (99 Percent Invisible, Song Exploder, Millennial, etc.) but so many new podcasts have piqued our interest too! We've decided it's high time we share an updated list of what's been playing on our daily commutes. 

Sarah's Picks!

1. Young House Love Has a Podcast - One of my favorite DIY/home decor blogs is Young House Love, co-written by John and Sherry Petersik. When they decided to stop blogging a couple of years ago, I was totally bummed to say goodbye to one of my favorite blogging families. While still keeping up with them on social media, I recently saw that they had started a podcast where they talk design, DIY, and life with each other and with some awesome designers/bloggers (Emily Henderson, anyone?) Whether you already love these two or you're newbies to YHL, give this a listen and you won't regret it.

Listen To: Episode 8 - Three Pro Bloggers Get Real About Sponsored Posts

2. Anna Faris is Unqualified - What's not to love about Anna Faris? She's hilarious, smart, and seems so down-to-earth despite her celebrity status. When I realized she started a podcast where she and other celebs give people unqualified dating and life advice, I was intrigued. Her show, co-hosted by Sim Sarna, is funny and fresh compared to other celebrity-guest podcasts. The advice isn't terrible either!

Listen To: Episode 16 - Ellen Page

3. Sword and Scale - Many of us love a good true crime story. We were hooked on Serial, then Criminal, then Making a Murderer, and now I needed something new to try. Sword and Scale has been around for a few years but I discovered it when googling for a true crime podcast. I've listened to nearly 40 episodes in the past few months and I'm hooked. Each story is different, fascinating, and a bit disturbing.

Listen To: Episode 3 - Female Serial Killers

4. Shailey & Katie - I've been following Shailey Murphy and Katie Day on Instagram for a few years. Based in Springfield, MO, I discovered their feeds through their connection to blogs like A Beautiful Mess, Skunkboy, Smile & Wave, etc. (turns out lots of creative people come out of a tiny town in Missouri!) When I learned that they started a podcast, I listened to it on a whim, but found myself wholeheartedly enjoying it. Their show is like hanging out with two best friends - they're hilarious and unprofessional in all of the right ways.

Listen To: Episode 4 - Katie Day Lost 70 Pounds! (And Shailey ate 736 M&M's. Slow clap for her.)

5. Planet Money - I'm sure you've at least heard of Planet Money (it's an NPR podcast after all!) It's one of my favorite shows to listen to. The stories are quick (about 15 minutes), unique, and so interesting. The name Planet Money could scare you off, but it's not like listening to a lecture in economics class. It's real life stories that kind of have to do with money, like "How to Make it in the Food Truck Business" or "The Fondue Conspiracy." I think my favorite part is that each episode is such a small investment of time. Give it a try - maybe you'll learn something!

Listen To: Episode 538 - Is a Stradivarius Just a Violin?

6. Lady Lovin - If you're in your mid-twenties like me, you probably spent your high school years obsessing over Laguna Beach. If so, I'm sure you'll remember Lo Bosworth, best friend of LC. Since the Laguna days, Lo has gone on to write a book, start an award-winning blog, and now host a weekly podcast with two of her best friends, Jilly Hendrix and Greta Titelman. Each week the Lady Lovin gals talk life, business, health, etc. and bring in awesome guests along the way.

Listen To: Episode 14 - Women who Rule with Katia Beauchamp, Co-Founder & CEO of Birchbox

Nick's Picks!

1. Gilmore Guys - Anyone love Gilmore Girls? Then you're going to LOVE Gilmore Guys. This one is by far my biggest time commitment, and has been my #1 favorite podcast since starting it over a year ago. There really isn't much to it; 2 guys, Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe, take apart the TV show Gilmore Girls episode by episode, scene by scene, pop-culture reference by pop-culture reference. It is an absolute hilarious must-listen. Fantastic guests, live shows, never-ending riffing, and great insight into the television and comedy industry make this the most crave-able podcast on my list.

Listen to: Episode 101 - Pilot

And we saw them live last year in Washington, D.C. - read about it here!

2. Mortified - My weekly dose of ridiculous and embarrassing hilarity. This podcast is live recordings of people reading aloud their childhood writings (mostly diaries, love letters, etc.) to audiences of complete strangers. The episodes are pretty short, funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and always endearing. It makes for a great quick and easy, satisfying pick me up. 

Obviously, I don't do quite as much podcast listening as I used to (or as Sarah does), but all 8 of these podcasts listed above are super solid and extremely worth your time. Please share below some of your favorite podcasts so we can discover even more!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Orange Chair Makeovers

If you've been following the blog or my Instagram for a couple of years, you may remember these orange chairs we took from the abandoned house next door, that just so happened to be owned by our former landlord (yes, you read all of that correctly.)

In a nutshell, our landlord was cleaning out the house next door to sell it. I saw these chairs that had been sitting in a dusty, dirty, abandoned house for 20+ years and said "MINE, ALL MINE!" We loved the midcentury design and were willing to look past the bad shape they were in, in hopes that we could revitalize them someday.

There was no label on the chairs, except a small metal plate on the bottom of the seats that said "Directional," which didn't really yield us any Google results. Then Brynne from The Gathered Home featured them on her blog and did a little research herself. Turns out they are in the style of Norman Cherner Side/Pretzel Chairs. We're thinking Directional may be the brand/designer? Either way, chairs of this style are worth a pretty penny. It was a good score.

Fast forward two years. We've worked on the chairs intermittently over the past couple years but it was never a project we sunk our teeth into. Ultimately we knew we wanted to showcase the pretty wood as best as possible (no painting) and we wanted to reupholster the seats, but keep them orange. Basically we wanted the chairs to look similar, but just nicer and in better shape.

So finally, when we bought our house and decided to create a music room for Nick, I knew that these chairs would look beautiful against navy blue walls. With a purpose in mind, we set out to get the chairs completed, and here they are!

We started by completely disassembling the chairs and giving them a good cleaning. We used aluminum foil to remove the rust from the legs and then spray painted them with silver/metallic spray paint. Nick sanded down the wooden bases and patched up all of the wood that was broken off or peeling. We stained the wood in our go-to Minwax Early American (which we also used on the legs of our record shelf.) Finally, we reupholstered the seats with this fun orange fabric from Jo-Ann. It feels like we brought these babies into our apartment forever ago, but they're finally, finally done!

The chairs have been such a great addition to the music room and we love the complementary blue/orange & dark wood vibes going on in there. That's one more thing checked off the music room to-do list - almost done!

Sarah & Nick