This newbie is simply asking for a beginner's kit.
I think that we (myself included) sometimes over analyze the situation and provide newbies with a lifetime DSLR plan which is not really what they requested.
For your stated budget, a very good startup kit is the Nikon D60 kit with Nikkor lens AF-S VR 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G.
This will leave you with a couple of hundred $$$ for other necessities such as
1. UV/Polariser Filters
2. Dry Cabinet
3. Memory Cards
4. Camera Bag
6. Photoediting Software
When you want to get more serious, you can then upgrade to other lenses and camera bodies.
However, if your budget can be extended by another $1,000. I would recommend the D90 Kit with AF-S 18-105mm VR. This is an exceptional camera and lens for its price.