When struggling for an idea for dinner, I sometimes turn to what I call grocery store helpers. For this recipe, it was seasoned pork tenderloin. Once I spotted the peppercorn-flavored tenderloin, I knew I was on the way to a quick dinner.

One thing I am always on the lookout for with preseasoned or premarinated foods is the often very high sodium content. This one wasn't too bad at 690mg for a 4-ounce serving. Some canned soups have more than that in a 1-cup serving.

Slicing the tenderloin into medallions is what makes this dish super easy. You can pan sear, grill or broil these individual pieces in minutes.

Before slicing the pork tenderloin for this recipe, put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm it up and make it easier to cut into even pieces. Once sliced, flatten the medallions, including the tapered end, so they are all about the same size and thickness for even cooking.

Pork tenderloin is lean, so you don't want to overcook it. Pan searing it and reheating it in the cream sauce cooks it to a safe temperature (145 degrees) and helps keep it moist. Be sure to add the cornstarch to the half-and-half before adding it to the pan. This helps stabilize it and thicken the sauce. Also, whisk it in slowly and at a low temperature to prevent curdling.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

1 peppercorn-flavored pork tenderloin (16 to 19 ounces)

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 1/2 cups diced firm tart apple

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup white wine, sherry or chicken broth

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup low-fat half-and-half mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut the pork tenderloin into as many 3/4- to 1-inch pieces as you can. Flatten each piece to about 1/2-inch thick. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the pork tenderloin medallions to the skillet and brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet to a plate and keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add the apples and saute until lightly browned and slightly softened. Add the pecans and saute about 1 minute. Add the wine and increase the heat to high to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and sprinkle the apples and pecans with the brown sugar and saute until the sugar melts. Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the half-and-half.

Return the pork medallions to the pan and cook about 6 minutes or until the sauce thickens and pork medallions are just cooked through. Season to taste.

315 calories (46 percent from fat ), 14g fat (4g sat. fat ), 15g carbohydrates, 23g protein, 879mg sodium, 66mg cholesterol, 1g fiber.

From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.