After trying two vanilla pudding recipes (side-by-side), I was tempted to rewrite this post, listing the "Alternative Recipe" as the primary; the alternative being the clear favorite for Dad, Michael, and me. However, I'm going to leave this post as I originally wrote it, as you may want to add protein to your desert by using the initial recipe (which includes egg yoke). Otherwise, I recommend you follow the alternative recipe for a quick and delicious pudding or for use in a cream pie.
2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Slowly stir in milk (a very small amount initially to form a thick paste. To make sure there aren't any lumps, I use a wooded spatula to "flatten" them before adding more milk). Cook while stirring over medium heat. When mixture is thick and bubbly, reduce heat and cook two minutes longer (while still stirring). Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the egg yolk, then return all to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil while stirring constantly, then cook (while still stirring) one minute longer. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to dessert dishes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Make as above, except: omit the egg, double the sugar to 1/2 cup, and use 3 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of 2.
This recipe makes about 2 cups of pudding.
Update: This post (from several days ago) has been submitted to the Simple Lives Thusday blog hop: http://gnowfglins.com/2011/02/23/simple-lives-thursday-32/