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9 fresh margarita recipes for National Margarita Day

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In case you needed an excuse to indulge, Feb. 22 is National Margarita Day.

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According to the Smithsonian, there are many stories about how the margarita came to be.

One story says that Carlos "Danny" Herrera developed the drink at his Tijuana-area restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, around 1938. He's said to have created the drink for a frequent customer who was allergic to all hard liquor besides tequila. To make the liquor less potent for his client, Herrera combined a traditional tequila shot with other elements, including a salted rim and a wedge of lime.

Another story says Margarita Sames, a wealthy Texas socialite, created the drink when she made it for friends at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948. Yet another story says Anthony Dias Blue was the first person to import Jose Cuervo to the United States. The Complete Book of Spirits says he advertised the drink with the tagline "Margarita: It's more than a girl's name" in 1945. Regardless of which story is correct, the world's first frozen margarita machine was invented in 1971 by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez. It was acquired in 2005 by Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Whether frozen, blended or on the rocks, a margarita is the perfect drink for any festive party or celebratory occasion.

Here are nine easy recipes to create the perfect cocktail:

'Harry Potter' fans compare Starbucks butterscotch latte to butterbeer

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Days after Starbucks released three limited-time drinks for Valentine's Day, the company has exposed a new coffee item that used to exist only on the coffee chain's secret menu.

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The limited-edition drink is called the smoked butterscotch latte and is available at participating stores nationwide for an unknown amount of time.

According to Starbucks, the smoked butterscotch latte "combines espresso with steamed milk and smoked butterscotch sauce, finished with a sprinkling of smoky butterscotch topping, perfectly crafted to give Starbucks customers new and sophisticated flavors."

“The smoky flavor balances the subtle sweetness of the butterscotch,” said Christal Canzler, whose team develops new handcrafted espresso beverages for Starbucks. “It acts as a savory ingredient that enhances the coffee.”

Many Harry Potter fans are comparing the sweet latte to the popular butterbeer drink mentioned in J.K. Rowling's series. 

Most people responded to the drink positively, saying Starbucks' rendition of the butterscotch beverage is spot on with what they imagined.

Others compared the latte to Rowlings' creation, saying the drink was tasty but not similar to what butterbeer probably tastes like. 

Overall, the response to the new drink is generally positive, but Starbucks lovers and Harry Potter fans should remember one thing: no matter how similar you think the smoked butterscotch latte tastes like butterbeer, you should probably order it using Starbucks' signature name.

McDonald’s to serve chocolate-covered french fries

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Looking for something that’s sweet and salty?

McDonald’s announced Tuesday that for a limited time, most of its restaurants in Japan will serve “the latest fry innovation to hit their menu” — french fries drizzled with white and milk chocolate sauce.

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Yes, the McChoco Potato is available only in Japan, for now. According to a news release, the limited-run item will be served in restaurants from Jan. 26 through mid-February, tentatively.

A McDonald’s news release calls the blend of french fries and chocolate an “ideal combination.”

Customers can either pay 330 yen (roughly $2.80) for an order of McChoco Potato, or upgrade the medium fries with their value meal to the chocolate-covered treat for and extra 60 yen (50 cents), according to a news release, originally in Japanese and translated to English, from McDonald’s Japan.

'Mom's Valet,' secret menu among unknown perks at Chick-fil-A

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Chick-fil-A has been a longtime southern favorite. Now, the chain is expanding across the U.S. and capturing the hearts (and taste buds) of Americans everywhere.

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The chain's famed chicken sandwich may keep you coming back for more, but these perks could be the cherry on top of your dining experience:

1. Mom's Valet: Parents with children can place their orders at the drive-thru, then come inside where a table and their food will be waiting for them

2. Mobile payments: Through the Chick-fil-A mobile app, customers can register for a payment account and load it with funds. The app’s QR code is then scanned inside the restaurant or at the drive-thru. The cost of the order is automatically deducted from the payment account

3. Mobile ordering: Using the restaurant's mobile app, customers can order before arriving at the restaurant. The preferred pickup method (walk inside or car delivery) can also be selected through the app. Payment is be made using a credit card, debit card or the Chick-fil-A mobile app. Food is only prepared once customers “check in,” ensuring that food is as fresh as it is when ordering in the restaurant.    

4. Secret menu: According to #HackTheMenu, there are a number of unlisted items to be had, including blueberry cheesecake milkshakes, chicken quesadillas and root beer floats

Restaurant participation in these services varies. Contact specific locations to confirm offerings. 

Starbucks adds new latte macchiato to its espresso lineup

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Starbucks is adding a new espresso beverage to its lineup.

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Beginning Jan. 5, the latte macchiato will be served in Starbucks cafes, the company said Monday.

The beverage is made only with espresso and steamed milk: “Starbucks baristas will use this carefully crafted technique to draw out an intensely bold and roasty flavor that highlights the Starbucks espresso in the beverage,” Starbucks said in a news release.

In addition to the latte macchiato, which will be a permanent addition to Starbucks’ menu, the company also said it is adding more than a dozen new drinks, treats and merchandise items, including:

• Guatemala Casi Cielo Whole Bean Coffee: Starbucks says this coffee is known for “its bright, rich flavor and smooth body.”

• Teavana London Fog: This used to be known as the Earl Grey Tea Latte at Starbucks.

• Teavana Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade: A favorite item in the spring months.

• Italian-Style Ham & Spicy Salami

• Almond croissant

• Vermont maple walnut muffin

• Chocolate cookie dough cake pop

• Heart cookie, back just in time for Valentine’s Day

• Heart-shaped Starbucks gift card

Read more at Starbucks.com.

Jared Fogle sentenced to 15.6 years for child porn, sex with minors

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle has been sentenced to 15.6 years behind bars for possession of child pornography and sex with minors

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Fogle, 38, will serve 188 months in prison for each count brought against him.

He will not be able to seek parole during the first 13 years of his sentence. Once released, he will participate in treatment for sexual disorders and will have lifetime supervision.

Before sentencing, Fogle told a federal judge he would stick with his decision to plead guilty to the child porn and sex crime charges brought against him earlier this year.

A psychiatrist who analyzed Fogle says he concluded that the former Subway pitchman suffers from hypersexuality, mild pedophilia and alcohol abuse and dependency.

John Bradford, a professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada, testified by phone Thursday at Fogle's sentencing hearing that Fogle appears to have had a compulsive eating disorder and that he began to develop hypersexuality shortly after losing weight.

>> Photos: The rise and fall of Jared Fogle

Bradford says Fogle told him he had sex with minors age 16 and 17 and had "a fairly extensive history" of using prostitutes. 

Fogle pleaded guilty to one count each of traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and distribution and receipt of child pornography.

Before the sentencing portion began, Fogle pleaded guilty to one count each of travelling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and distribution and receipt of child pornography. He agreed to pay his 14 victims $100,000 each in restitution.

Prosecutors had sought a 12.5-year prison sentence, while Fogle's attorneys asked for five years behind bars.

Federal prosecutors have copies of audio recordings a Florida woman said she made of Fogle talking about sexual encounters he had with children, and they said they took those recordings "into account" before charging Fogle.

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Fogle told the judge:

"Where do I even try to begin, your honor? For most of my adult life I have been in the spotlight, trying to be a positive role model for others. I have become dependent upon alcohol, pornography and prostitutes. At the time I truly did not think through what I was doing. Nor did I think about the consequences of my actions. I've learned so much about the underage minors with whom I've paid to have sex with. Not a day will go by that I don't think about them, what I did and the impact on their lives. The members of my family are also victims of my reprehensible acts. I absolutely devastated my wife. I want to get myself healthy and try to help others, although I can never change my deplorable past choices. I take full, ample responsibility for what I've done. I want to redeem my life. I want to become a good, decent person and a good father and to help others." 

Hungry? These are the best restaurants in America this year

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Some say good food is essential to a happy life.

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For those seeking an extra succulent meal, Food & Wine Magazine has released their Restaurants of the Year list, and Esquire Magazine released their Best New Restaurants list.

Here are the eateries that made the cut:

Esquire's Best New Restaurants

Shaya, New Orleans

Townsman, Boston

The Progress, San Francisco

Muscadine, Portland, OR

The Grey, Savannah

Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, Morristown, N.J.

B.S. Taqueria and Broken Spanish, Los Angeles

Momotaro, Chicago

Dolo Restaurant and Bar, Chicago

The Duck Inn, Chicago

Little Park, New York

Shuko, New York

Santina, New York

Mountain Bird, New York

Food & Wine Restaurants of the Year

The Grey, Savannah

Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis

Cosme, New York City

The Progress, San Francisco

Petit Trois, Los Angeles

Food & Wine restaurant editor Kate Krader selected the five restaurants as winners for 2015. She evaluated the businesses’ energy, originality and style.

Target to roll out in-store, fully stocked bar

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Customers may soon be able to have happy hour while they shop at Target.

The retail chain is working to serve alcohol from a fully stocked bar in its stores.

"That is crazy," said Target customer Craig Rumbaugh.

"I don't know that it is really necessary," said Target customer Samantha Maretti.

The company plans to start at a smaller, more "city-friendly" Target store in Chicago.

Target already sells liquor for shoppers to take home, but this would be the first "consumption on premises" liquor license for Target.

Some customers said the bar would not bother them, but others did not like the idea.

"It is one thing to get your coffee lattes or what have you, [but] to get a drink and then go shopping?" said Maretti.

"Why would you want alcohol in a place that has family oriented stuff?  It's kind of silly," said Rumbaugh.

Some customers think the plan could cause a bigger problem.

"It's harder to control the underage drinking if you have got a wider variety of people," said Maretti.

Sheriff Jerry Demings said he is against the sale of liquor in supermarkets. He said it would be unnecessary expansion of alcohol that could increase underage drinking.

The first store is scheduled to begin serving this fall.

Starbucks adding actual pumpkin to pumpkin spice latte

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Are you a fan of Starbucks’ incredibly popular pumpkin spice latte? You might want to listen up.

The company is changing how it makes the fan-favorite seasonal drink, dropping the caramel coloring and adding real pumpkin flavor.

Starbucks announced the change on its website, and the official pumpkin spice latte Twitter account (@TheRealPSL) alerted the news.

The Starbucks announcement — posted by Peter Dukes, the man you can thank for leading the team that developed the tasty drink — includes a list of ingredients in the pumpkin spice latte: espresso, milk, pumpkin spice flavored sauce (which includes pumpkin puree), whipped cream, vanilla syrup and pumpkin spice topping.

Starbucks came under fire last fall when it was reported the company did not use real pumpkin in the pumpkin spice latte.

The company has not released the date for when the drink will become available this fall.

Now you can order Starbucks from your phone

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Starbucks lovers, this one’s for you: Starting today, mobile ordering is available in 21 more states.

Mobile ordering is now available in more than 3,400 Starbucks stores, the company said.

The system, which launched in March in the Pacific Northwest, allows a customer to place an order using the Starbucks app on their smartphone, then pick up their order at the selected store.

To place a mobile order, open the Starbucks app and select the “Order” tab in the upper right portion of the screen. Pick out the items you would like to order, and confirm your selections by clicking the “order” button. This will charge your Starbucks card while placing the order.

Supported states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Mobile ordering is only available for iPhone users right now, but Starbucks says it will expand the service to Android — and all U.S. company-owned stores — later this year.

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