I would caution AGAINST a Nikon D7000. I love mine. Love it. It's awesome. It's also more camera than a lot of people will really want or need. The D3000 was a lot cheaper, let me get better lenses as I figured out what to do with them, and had nice little tutorials built in. Perfect for a beginning photographer. As a middle case, take the D5100. An ex-girlfriend purchased it to learn photography and in essence found that her pictures, on manual mode, were crap. That scared her back onto automatic mode, and there she has stayed for years. A complete waste of money. She would have been better served by buying a nice point and shoot, like a coworker did. He has used it and focused on learning the craft of composition, and has produced really nice photos for about half the price my ex paid.
It's good to think of it like buying a car. If you buy emotionally, you're gonna get taken for a ride, my dad told me. Don't let yourself get bamboozled by big or small numbers, beautiful photographs taken by a pro with that camera, and so on.
That's another reason to go with an entry level DSLR: it will let you learn the art and craft of photography, because even with the right equipment, cool pictures of wine glasses shattering don't just take themselves. That's what I really got into with my D3000. Then when I started to feel its limitations - when in concrete ways it started stopping me from going further - I started thinking about buying something that cost 2x, 3x, or 10x as much.
You want to itemize very specifically what you want in your camera, so you can see which provide what you're looking for. Then it's only a matter of researching through specifications.
For instance, the Nikon D5100 and 5200 let you plug in relatively low-cost attachments that will enable you to do high-speed photography of things like wine glasses shattering, so you wouldn't need a D7000.
If you want nice portraits focusing on the foreground and blurring out the background with lovely bokeh, well, any DSLR can take awesome portraits like that with a good $200 lens (50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 will do the trick). No need for a D7000 there. In fact, the nice kit lens that comes with the D7000 won't do that. Doesn't open the aperture wide enough.
Do you want to do frozen motion? My D7000 can do 1/8000 second exposures, but you know what? The soccer photos I took with my D3000 at 1/1000 and 1/2000 are pretty spiffy.
But all the megapixels? Aren't those good? For marketers. But really, unless you are gonna print oversized prints, bigger than say 8x12, an 8 megaixel is perfectly ample. Really.
In short, the limitations of most photography has more to do with the photographer than with his camera. If you want to learn, and have a history of learning that you don't like a new hobby as much as you thought you would (like my ex), then I'd really recommend an entry- or mid-level DSLR. Nothing over, say $600. Just not necessary.